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Local Policy

New York City has around 8.5 inhabitants (2016). NYC’s climate policy is led by local authorities through the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the Mayor’s office of recovery and Resiliency. The first policy related to climate change adaptation and mitigation was adopted in 2007 by Mayor Bloomberg, it was the plan A Greener, Greater New York. The NYC strategy went through a second step in 2013 after the Sandy Hurricane, with plan named  A Stronger, More Resilient New York. It was followed by a plan on mitigation and climate justice in 2015.

In October 2017 the city government issued  the plan “1.5C: Aligning New York City with the Paris Climate Agreement”, outlining actions and strategies to be implemented by 2020 in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree Celsius outcome and committing the City to lead in the development of a global protocol for carbon neutrality.

Mitigation

Plan

The plan “1.5C: Aligning New York City with the Paris Climate Agreement“, issued in 2017, assesses the pace and timing with which NYC must reduce GHG emissions and draws on previous analysis to identify actions the City must take by 2020 in order to align the City’s emissions reduction goal of 80% by 2050 (80 x 50) with the Paris Agreement and a 1.5 degree Celsius outcome. The plan also called for the city to offset all remaining carbon pollution by 2050. NYC is the first city to release a 1.5 degree Celsius, Paris Agreement-compatible climate action plan.

The “One New York : The Plan for a Strong and Just City” plan adopted in 2015, as a plan for reconstruction after the Hurricane Sandy in 2012. It is comprised of a emissions reduction goal of 80% by 2050 compared to 2005, and of 30% by 2030[1]. The mitigation content of the plan relies on regulatory measures, and public-private partnerships including the use of market regulation to foster new and innovative entities to access the market, especially for energy systems. The City plans to shift the budget orientation toward greener investments for public services. Broadly, the strategy is to reform public utilities and services in order to maximise performances in public sector and enhance public and private sector engagement in voluntary programs (schools and waste composting). Recycle and retrofit of urban infrastructures and abandoned areas, focusing on eco-friendly and sustainable projects, are planned to be launched on those areas (cleaning and redevelopment of brownfields).

Cost

Projections of the cost of the NYC mitigation plan are still being evaluated but for energy efficiency and generation in the housing sector a detailed estimates have been provided with the plan :

  • Invest in highly energy efficient projects in all City owned buildings : $105 million annual Cost Saving
  • Expand Solar Panel Power on City Rooftops: $8 million annual Cost Savings
  • Implement deep retrofits in key city facilities : $55 million annual cost savings
  • Improve building operations and maintenance in city owned buildings: $12 million annual cost savings

Best Practice

One City : Built to last[2] is a 10 year- plan launched in 2014 targeting to reduce building-based CO2 emissions by 30% by 2025. The plan is first targeting public buildings. A more than $1 billion public investment is backing the retrofitting of city-owned buildings. The Technical Working Group, composed by 38 experts in architecture, engineering, real estate, and environment, will give it advises all along the implementation process. Then, the outcomes will be used for promoting similar actions in the private sector. The plan is based on well established technologies such as expanding solar power in City rooftops, retrofitting, clean technologies and cooling roofs, its ambition lies in the volume of emissions reduction considering the fact that nearly three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions are due to building.

Adaptation

Plan

“One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City” was adopted in 2015 and was drafted with the advice from the New York City Panel on Climate Change[3] (NPCC) which produces climate projections for the New-York State. Climate risks identified include heat waves, sea level rise and storm surge, droughts and floods[4]. The coastal zone will face the greatest economic impact of any region due to its exposure and vulnerability, and the high concentration of residences, businesses, and infrastructure along the shore (assessment). Urbanized areas will incur higher public health costs due to the urban heat island effect.

Cost

After Sandy, the 2013 recovery and resiliency plan[5] from Mayor Bloomerg was estimated to have a cost of $14 billion covering both capital expenditures and study costs. Combined with private sector recovery and resiliency needs, this estimated cost reached $19.5 billion. A significant part of those investments were to be borne by the public (including State and Federal government-funded projects).

The City has distributed $23.4 million in direct loan and grant assistance to more than 650 businesses and over $2.5 million has been awarded through the City’s Business Loan and Grant Program. The Business resiliency Investment Program is a $110 million program to help small businesses to make resiliency investments to their equipment and buildings.

As a result from Hurricane Sandy and the increasing risk of flooding in NYC, families living in most vulnerable areas have to face premiums that are likely to increase significantly. Until 2012, the National Flood Insurance Programme was keeping premiums rate below actuarial prices, but the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act put an end to it. The municipality is then trying to address insurance affordability by advocating at the federal level for the creation of lower-cost flood insurance products for those who are vulnerable to flooding, and also premium assistance measures to help low-income New Yorkers.

Included in the actual adaptation plan, the actions outlined for Rebuilding and Resiliency requires total public funding of over $14 billion over a ten-year period. The area of Public housing resiliency represents a $1.1 billion investment, a cost estimated by the New York City Housing Authority.

Best Practice

The “Waterfront Plan” initiative is part of “A stronger, More Resilient New York”, the adaptation plan launched in 2013. NYC has been awarded [6] for its adaptation plan implemented in reaction to the devastating Hurricane Sandy.  This plan includes two programs, East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) and Hunts Point Resiliency (HPR), directly involving local communities. They are invited to shape the future coastal protection infrastructure. The participatory planning  method used aims at responding to the needs and desires of the inhabitants and business affected. In both areas, community boards, civic groups, tenant associations and business owners contribute in designing the new open space along the waterfront. Resilience of the neighborhood of Hunts Point is of crucial importance in case of extreme events because it hosts the Food Distribution Center providing for 22 million people.

 

References:

[1] “One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City” (The City of New York, 2015).

[2] “One City Built to Last” (The City of New York, 2014).

[3] Scientific expertise of the NPCC was created to advise political decision-makers. The NPCC is mandated to make reports on progress in implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures as well as their impacts on climate change.

[4] “New York City Panel on Climate Change 2015 Report Conclusions and Recommendations: PCC 2015 Report Conclusions and Recommendations” January 2015.

[5] “A Stronger, More Resilient New York.”

[6] C40 Cities Awards 2013