Activists, Council Members say the Only Way NYC Will Meet Climate Goals is with Whole Building Retrofits

New York, New York – Today, the Climate Works for All coalition released its plan to reduce NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions by 12%, by requiring comprehensive energy efficiency retrofits at the city’s large buildings.

Buildings in NYC contribute to 70% of the city’s emissions.  While Mayor de Blasio has announced a commitment to mandate the reduction of on-site fossil fuel usage in large buildings, Climate Works for All, a broad coalition of labor, environmental justice, faith, and community organizations, argues that the retrofits must go further and include the use of electricity from the grid and central steam as well.

The City will only meet its ambitious target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 if it requires a whole building approach.

The Climate Works for All plan will yield stronger results than de Blasio’s in several ways.  It will reduce NYC total emissions by 12% instead of the 7% target under the Mayor’s plan, create 3,800 jobs per year instead of 1,120, and protect affordable housing from rent hikes, among other differences.

The coalition released a briefing that summarizes the differences between the plans.

Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN, said: “The City clearly recognizes that reducing emissions from big buildings is a priority in the fight against climate change: now it must take bold action and require whole building energy efficiency retrofits.  Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing our city and this is not a time for half measures.  We are facing a tremendous opportunity to lead on this issue, to put low-income communities at the center, to create climate careers of the future and to protect affordable housing.”

“New York City must implement an aggressive building retrofit mandate for the biggest polluters, while protecting affordable housing and creating good jobs for low-income communities and communities of color on the frontlines of the climate crisis.” Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, “We cannot afford to have low-road climate policies – we need to protect the health of our communities and take bold action for climate justice.”

“An aggressive whole-building retrofit mandate has the potential to create thousands of good jobs for hard-working New Yorkers.  By tackling the entire building instead of only the use of fossil fuels for heating and hot water, these retrofits can generate opportunities in many highly-skilled construction trades – for the Painters and Allied Trades represented by District Council 9 as well as others throughout the industry,” said Davon Lomax, Political Director of District Council 9.

Council Member Jumaane Williams, member of the City Council Progressive Caucussaid: “To say that we have to choose between affordable housing and being climate-conscious is a false choice.  We can protect our planet and our people simultaneously, as the Climate Works for All plan demonstrates.  Especially in the time of Trump, when the federal government is actively opposing environmentally friendly initiatives, New York City must lead the way.”

“The Climate Works for All plan is a strong step forward for New York City’s sustainability efforts and a positive example for cities across the country,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice-Chair of the City Council Progressive Caucus. “By paying attention to the way large buildings are built and focusing on the environment, we will demonstrate that we can create an environmental agenda filled with opportunity for workers and that helps the environment. The Progressive Caucus has endorsed a Climate Works for All proposal on building retrofits that protects affordable housing and we look forward to continuing our work to come up with the best legislative package possible.”

“With our leadership in Washington refusing to pursue a climate agenda, we have to step up to do our part locally.  The Climate Works for All proposal not only establishes an effective approach to achieving long-term climate goals while protecting affordable housing, but creates green job opportunities for New Yorkers,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Co-Chair of the City Council Progressive Caucus.

“We need to act now to protect all New Yorkers – particularly low-income workers and communities of color that stand to be disproportionately impacted by sea level rise and extreme weather caused by global climate change. This diverse coalition of community, labor and environmental advocates underscores the reality that climate change affects us all, and must be confronted head on,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, member of the City Council Progressive Caucus and Committee on Recovery and Resiliency. “The Climate Works for All Proposal works to achieve our City’s goal of increasing our reliance on renewable energy sources to reduce our carbon footprint – all while creating local jobs in the growing green energy sector. As world leaders continue to discuss global action on climate change, we must not forget the importance of local action to meet this historic challenge. Nothing less than the future of our children and grandchildren is at stake.”

About Climate Works for All

Climate Works for All is a broad coalition of labor, environmental justice, faith, and community organizations united to ensure that efforts to address climate change also create good,  career-track jobs and prioritize low-income, climate-vulnerable communities. Climate change presents immense challenges, yet also offers the opportunity to pursue policies that will achieve significant benefits– environmental and economic– for our communities. We believe New York City can continue to elevate the voices of residents and workers on the front-lines of a growing movement for climate justice, and in the process, become a greater national leader on climate jobs and resiliency. In December 2014, the coalition released Climate Works for All: A Platform for Reducing Emissions, Protecting Our Communities, and Creating Good Jobs for New Yorkers. This agenda offers a roadmap for reducing New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Through our No More Dirty Buildings campaign, Climate Works for All is urging the City to require energy efficiency improvements to reduce our emissions, create good, local jobs to address inequality, and protect affordable housing to prevent displacement.