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Environmental Initiatives


New York City (NYC)
Climate Change


Climate change poses a serious threat to our planet. NYC realizes the importance of addressing this threat. To gain a better understanding of upcoming climate changes, the City developed its first official NYC-specific climate change projections. The projections were made by the NYC Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), comprised by leading experts in climate science, social sciences, economics, risk management and law. The NPCC has projected that by the end of the century, NYC will face as many 90 degree days as the state of Georgia, 2.5 feet increase in sea levels, and doubled the possibility of a 100 year flood. Though much progress has been made since the launch of PlaNYC in 2007, the program still has a long way to go.

Reduction of GHG emissions still remains one of the top priorities among NYC's climate change initiatives. Citywide GHG emissions have decreased by 16% since 2005, and as a result NYC is closer to meeting its goal of reducing GHG emissions by 30% in 2030.  Electricity supply in NYC is 30% cleaner today than in 2005, thanks to rise in efficiency of power plants. NYC has also effectively reduced the use of residual oil in buildings since 2005, when 30% of energy was generated by residual oil as opposed to 2% today. In 2008, the City launched the NYC Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. The goal was to conduct a technical assessment of the impact climate change has on the City's critical infrastructure. The evaluation was completed in 2010, and has helped develop and coordinated action plans for over 100 types of infrastructure. The City has already taken steps to prepare its critical infrastructure for upcoming challenges.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy exposed many deficiencies in the infrastructure of NYC against environmental disasters, but it also revealed what programs have worked. Using knowledge gained through Sandy, NYC has thought to accelerate efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and increase resilience in the city’s infrastructure towards natural forces. Such strategy will ensure the City's long-term economic prosperity and encourage public and private investments in NYC infrastructure. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is raising critical equipment at its Rockaway water pollution control plant from the basement to elevations above projected flood levels. This measure will ensure that the plant can remain operational or quickly recover after a flood.  To better manage risks associated with coastal flooding and rising sea levels, NYC has accelerated efforts to update informational tools about coastal risks. Although Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has not yet completed the process of updating flood maps for NYC, their progress was released in 2013 to help with rebuilding efforts following Sandy. This report revealed a dramatically expanded floodplain, which will allow NYC to make more informed planning decisions in the future.

Climate risk is a challenge that NYC already faces, and current practices and experiences will pave the way on how to deal with future climate changes. Already NYC experiences heat waves that cause health problems; snowstorms that cause power failures and disrupt traffic, nor'easters that cause flooding. While the city can and should protect itself against some of these risks, it's not feasible or even possible to protect the infrastructure from all the climate risks it faces. What's critical is the ability to prepare, operate during and respond to climate events in ways that minimize damage and disruption. NYC's goal is not to create a "climate proof" city, but to enhance its resilience to current and short-term risks, while incorporating the best science available to minimize long-term climate risks.

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