April 19, 2019 By Alexa Beyer
The New York City Council passed the boldest climate legislation of any major U.S. city yesterday.
The Climate Mobilization Act will dramatically reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade by cracking down on big buildings.
Many are describing the sweeping eight-bill package, initiated by Council Member Costa Constantinides, as New York’s version of the Green New Deal.
“It’s a new day in New York City,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson tweeted yesterday. “Climate change is an existential threat and we must rise to the occasion. The @NYCCouncil and @Costa4NY are taking aggressive action with our Climate Mobilization Act,” the tweet read.
The centerpiece of the legislation takes aim at buildings larger than 25,000 square feet. The owners of these buildings will have to reduce their emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
The law will take effect in 2024 when the limits begin to kick in. The Dept. of Buildings will establish a new unit to regulate and enforce the standards.
Some buildings, however, will be exempt from the cap, such as apartment buildings with rent-regulated units.
Property owners subject to the law will have to retrofit their buildings to meet the target, or do something else like purchase greenhouse gas offsets. While only 2 percent of the million structures in New York City are 25,000 square feet or larger, they emit 30 percent of the city’s greenhouse gases, according to the city.
Emissions from buildings accounted for 67 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas in 2015, according to an inventory published by the city.
“The Climate Mobilization Act is a downpayment on the future of New York City — one that ensures we lead the way in the ever-growing fight against climate change,” Constantinides said in a statement after the legislation was passed. “Today, we sent that message to the world by enacting the boldest mandate to reduce carbon emissions, tackling one of the biggest drivers of climate change.”
Mark Chambers, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, told the New York Times that the new legislation will cost building owners more than $4 billion cumulatively. However, the city expects that the legislation will also create thousands of jobs.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the legislation, which passed 45-2 in the council, into law.