Feb. 13, 2019 By Christian Murray
Councilmember Costa Constantinides introduced a bill in the city council today that calls for the creation of a new department dedicated to fighting climate change and tackling environmental issues.
The new agency, which would be titled the Department of Sustainability, would be structured in the same manner as the Department of Buildings or the Department of Sanitation, with a commissioner and a dedicated budget.
The bill would merge the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, which focuses on combating the causes of climate change, and the Office of Resiliency and Recovery, which deals with making sure the city’s infrastructure can cope with the effects of climate change such as rising sea levels.
The benefit of bringing these offices under one roof is that there would be one unified voice dedicated to environmental sustainability. The agency would likely be able to get more city funds and employ more people to tackle climate issues.
The new department would also monitor the success of several environmental policies introduced by the city in recent years. The city, for instance, is committed to an 80 percent carbon reduction by 2050 and has pledged to increase solar capacity by 2030 to 1-Gigawatt, which is enough to power 250,000 homes. The council is currently considering a bill to reduce the carbon footprint of large buildings.
The department would execute these policies and set interim and long-term goals on sustainability measures such as greenhouse gas emissions, tree numbers and renewal energy generation. It would work with other city agencies to meet its goals.
“This is a battle New York City must wage for generations,” Constantinides said. “Our citizens deserve a full agency dedicated to a sustainable, resilient and greener future—one that’s adaptive, with the intellectual and budgetary power to make real change.”