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SCI-NY: New York City’s grand plan for a sustainable future.

When Superstorm Sandy demolished areas of New York City and completely shut down sections of the Five Boroughs, Gotham was given notice that it would not be spared the future ravages of climate change. In response, an ambitious plan – PlaNYC – was put in motion. Recently, Mayor Eric Adams laid out his administration’s vision for PlaNYC.

PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done is a comprehensive action plan that aims to make New York City cleaner, greener, and more just for all. It recognizes the decades of economic and environmental injustice that have taken place and seeks to redress them. The plan is designed to help seniors who need air conditioning to manage their health, and high school graduates who want to train in green trades to secure their futures. It also aims to help those who live in flood-prone zones and high-pollution neighborhoods.

“We’re in this together, we will get through this together, and I am so proud of the work we are doing to protect our city, Mother Earth, and all New Yorkers from the effects of climate change,” said Mayor Adams. “New York City has already taken major steps to become more sustainable, resilient, and equitable, including breaking ground on the Lower East Side Resiliency Project, passing Local Law 97 to reduce building emissions, and rapidly electrifying our city’s fleet, which is already the greenest in the nation. But we are just getting started. Today, we are taking these efforts to the next level with PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done, which will increase resilience, protect our infrastructure, and save lives.”

The plan builds on the progress made in the past two decades to make New York City more sustainable, resilient, and equitable. Thanks to the efforts of previous leaders, the city has been a trailblazer in urban climate solutions, investing billions in resilience projects, enacting Local Law 97 to reduce emissions from large, private buildings, and creating nearly 1,000 miles of bike lanes. PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done sets ambitious goals to prepare the city for the future, and pledges to deliver on them.

The plan promises to produce results that New Yorkers will feel all year long, protecting them from climate threats, improving their quality of life, and creating over 230,000 green economy jobs by 2030. It aims to reduce carbon emissions from transportation and buildings, bolster waterfront infrastructure, and promote the circular economy. It also seeks to reduce air pollution, clean waterways, increase the availability of healthy food, and protect New Yorkers from higher temperatures, extreme rainfall, and coastal flooding.

The urgent threat posed by climate change demands a similarly urgent response, with billions of dollars and millions of lives at stake. PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done aims to bring an all-of-government effort to bear against this threat and deliver the solutions that New Yorkers have been promised and deserve.

One of the key initiatives of PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done is to reduce carbon emissions from transportation and buildings. New York City has committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and this initiative is crucial in achieving that goal. The city will invest in electric vehicle infrastructure, promote walking and cycling, and support public transit. It will also require all new buildings to meet net-zero carbon standards by 2030, and will incentivize existing buildings to reduce their emissions.

Another important initiative is to bolster waterfront infrastructure to protect against rising sea levels and flooding. The city will invest in coastal protection measures, such as dunes and wetlands, and create new green spaces along the waterfront. It will also support the development of resilient building design and increase the use of green roofs and other green infrastructure.

PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done also aims to promote the circular economy, in which waste is minimized and resources are reused and recycled. The city will invest in recycling and composting infrastructure and promote sustainable production and consumption. It will also support the creation of green jobs in the waste management and recycling sectors.

In addition to these initiatives, PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done will also prioritize reducing air pollution, cleaning up waterways, increasing the availability of healthy food, and protecting New Yorkers from extreme weather events. These efforts are essential to improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers and securing a sustainable future for generations to come.

“Just 15 years ago, many people considered climate change a scientific theory. Today we know our climate is changing so rapidly that we must take immediate action to protect all New Yorkers,” New York City Chief Climate Officer and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala. “This plan lays out what we are doing to combat climate change on all fronts — making our buildings more energy efficient, reducing waste and transportation emissions, creating and storing renewable energy, and creating a new coastal resiliency division to protect the five boroughs from more intense storms and the worst effects of climate change.”

PlaNYC was first released in 2007 by New York City Mayor Bloomberg with the aim of preparing the city for one million more residents, strengthening the economy, combatting climate change, and enhancing the quality of life for all. The plan brought together over 25 City agencies and set out to achieve ten key goals for the City’s sustainable future, including a strategic planning process for climate change adaptation, updating floodplain maps, securing discounted flood insurance, and amending building codes. Over 97% of the 127 initiatives were launched within one year, and two-thirds of the 2009 milestones were achieved or mostly achieved.

WORDS: Scientific Inquirer Staff.

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