In a week in which New York City served as base camp to a number of large-scale events and declarations demanding global action on climate change, it’s fitting that what may be considered the most significant announcement of them all came from its mayor. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commitment to reduce the City’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent by 2050 — the level the United Nations projects is needed to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change — further carves out New York City as a leader in climate action.
For De Blasio’s administration and the city as a whole, a challenging road lies ahead to reduce GHG emissions. More than 80 percent of the reductions the City has achieved thus far are the result of switching electricity generation from coal and oil to natural gas, and from other improvements to utility operations — all efforts that, while beneficial, obviously can’t be replicated infinitely. The new “80 by 50” commitment is an enormous undertaking and meeting this goal will require much more than is outlined in the One City Plan. Where will the necessary reductions come from? Look no further than New York’s iconic skyline.