From The Mayor's Desk ...
There's no longer much doubt that the greenhouse gases we produce by burning fossil fuels contribute to global warming; the real question now is "What are we going to do about it?" New York's answer is straightforward; we aim to reduce our release of greenhouse gases by 30% by 2030. In fact, City government is going to lead the way by hitting that 30% target by 2017. These are ambitious goals, and last week we took some major steps toward reaching them.
Last week, I joined former President Bill Clinton in announcing a multi-billion dollar public-private partnership that will help property owners and government agencies in New York and 15 of the world's other biggest cities cut energy consumption in our existing buildings.
Working with the Clinton Foundation, five major international banks have each pledged $1 billion to finance upgrades in heating, cooling, and lighting systems and other worldwide building improvements that will cut energy use- and greenhouse gas production- by as much as 50%. This will make a big difference in New York, because the more than 900,000 buildings in the five boroughs account for nearly 80% of the greenhouse gases we produce. The program will be a winner for everyone involved. Not only will it reduce global warming; it will also create lots of jobs, and result in energy savings.
Automobile exhaust is another major source of greenhouse gases. It also produces the air pollution responsible for the tragically high rates of serious childhood asthma in our city. That's what makes our proposed pilot project of automobile congestion pricing in Manhattan below 86th Street so important. It would cut the number of vehicles on those streets- and on streets and highways throughout the city and region- and also finance major mass transit projects. In fact, transit improvements would come even before congestion pricing starts. A broad range of businesses, unions, and environmental and community organizations support our plan. And many of them joined me in Albany last Monday to ask state leaders for their support, too. After all, anyone who's crawled through Manhattan traffic at a snail's pace knows that the present system just isn't working.
I stressed our city's environmental goals- especially those relating to global warming- when I spoke to mayors of many of the world's greatest cities when they were in New York last week for a global summit on climate change. Cities are at the forefront of fighting global warming. Even though cities produce more than 70% of the world's greenhouse gases, the good news is that because our homes and businesses are relatively compact and close to one another, and because we rely so heavily on mass transit, New York and other cities also tend to be very energy efficient.
What's more, mayors around the world aren't waiting for national governments to take the lead on climate change; just as with fighting crime, improving schools, or taking other steps to improve people's daily lives, mayors are in the lead. As former President Clinton put it last week, "Mayors are in the doing business." And when it comes to reducing global warming, here in New York we're doing everything we can to leave our city a better place for our children and grandchildren.