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It’s no secret that climate change is one of the most urgent issues of our time.

Even skeptics are now realizing that excessive carbon emissions have become the lightning rod for changes in weather patterns, rising sea levels, increases in hurricanes, and disastrous super storms. As world leaders attempt to tackle climate change on a global scale, New York City must also take action to address vulnerabilities in the face of such change. With the expiration of PlaNYC just weeks away, we have the opportunity to re-imagine a long-term vision of our City that puts people and communities at the center of all climate change solutions.

Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC, while ambitious and important, insufficiently addressed the issue of inequality at the heart of climate change: low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by poor health and environmental burdens as well as hurricanes, superstorms, and disasters that result from excessive carbon emissions.

Successfully achieving the goal of 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 will rely on resilient communities that are nurtured by expanding economic opportunities throughout our City. A people-centered PlaNYC must reduce the inequality and promote environmental justice that for too long has been overlooked or ignored. By incorporating high-quality responsible job standards, state-approved apprenticeship training programs, and long-term career pathways into every single infrastructure project, development project, and initiative in PlaNYC, we would rebuild not just the tangible elements of our city, but our friends’ and neighbors’ lives as well.

We are glad this administration is committed to ending the Tale of Two Cities created by the status quo. Superstorm Sandy exposed and exacerbated divides in our economy, infrastructure, and housing in places like Far Rockaway, Red Hook, Sunset Park, and Coney Island. Unfortunately, survivors and families who are still struggling the most to rebuild and recover also live in the same areas where the vast majority of residents are low-income people of color.

With a people focused PlaNYC, New York City could serve as a global model for how public policy and investment can transform our cities to be sustainable, just, and resilient. Through this plan, the City could potentially create almost 40,000 good jobs each year by way of mandatory retrofits of large buildings, the installation of solar panels on schools, increasing transit access, improved infrastructure, and other areas of construction that impact our climate.

We can expand and build on the progress begun in post-Sandy rebuilding through the the Sandy Recovery Workforce1 centers and local hiring policies in the new Build it Back contracts. PlaNYC could expand this model into a comprehensive system of climate workforce development centers that connects low-income and moderate-income residents to good-paying career-track jobs that would help dramatically reduce carbon emissions and makes a more resilient and sustainable city.

Last year’s People’s Climate March brought out tens of thousands of New Yorkers who are concerned about our planet and our future. Let’s seize this moment to expand the City’s resiliency and sustainability plans to truly work for all New Yorkers.


1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
Communication Workers of America, District 1
Community Voices Heard
El Puente
Faith in New York
Fifth Avenue Committee
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3
Intl Assoc. of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 12
Make the Road New York
Morningside Heights/West Harlem Sanitation Coalition
New York City Central Labor Council, AFL CIO
New York City Environmental Justice Alliance
New York Communities for Change
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
Nos Quedamos
Pratt Center for Community Development
Service Employees Intl Union 32BJ
Sustainable South Bronx
Teamsters Joint Council 16
The Point Community Development Corporation
Transport Workers Union Local 100