OneNYC Address Climate Change, Environmental Justice

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The big news with OneNYC (formerly PlaNYC under Bloomberg) is that it strongly ties in environmental justice and equity into the city’s sustainability effort.

A major complaint was the lack of transparency and public input into the development of One NYC. While the holding of public hearings across the city was mentioned several months ago, that has not happened nor were any details re public input provided when the plan was released. The plan also is pro-nuclear (supportive of Indian Point) and positive towards natural gas.

OneNYC is more of a white paper than a detailed plan with timelines, benchmarks, funding commitments or even specific actions. Takes a generally liberal view in analyzing the problem and the future but avoids the details and hard decisions. Many of the key decisions (e.g., raising the minimum wage) are in the hands of the state and federal government rather than city. Evaded decisions the Mayor has a role in (e.g., the plastic bag bill).

On climate change, the frame is 80% reduction in GHC (based on 2005) by 2050. GELF and People’s Climate Mobilization want 100% clean energy by 2030 in contrast.

The plan sets an intermediary goal of 30% reduction by 2030, already at 19%.

The information below is primarily a cut and paste from OneNYC. (Editorial comments by GELF are in paranthesis)


On climate change

Starts off addressing environmental justice. Air quality through less trucks. more investments in parks in low-income communities.

Initiative 1 -Power Generation

Develop near-term local actions and long-term regional strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector

Nearly 3/4 of GHC in NYC due to energy use in buildings, so that has and will remain our focus. Makes pro statements re natural gas and nukes. (p. 166)

To reach 80 x 50, over 43 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) emissions reductions relative to business-as-usual trends will need to come from cleaner power generation, fossil-fuel-free modes of transportation, reducing solid waste, as well as improvements to the energy efficiency of buildings across New York City. By 2050, we must reduce nine million metric tons from power production, seven million metric tons from personal and commercial vehicles, two million metric tons from the disposal of solid waste, and the remaining 25 million metric tons from energy used in buildings

New York City will substantially reduce emissions from electricity generation, transportation, and solid-waste management by 2025. The initiatives announced in this plan are a down payment on our efforts to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the next year, the City will develop a 2025 action plan of additional initiatives for each of these three sectors to set our power, transportation, and solid waste systems on a path to 80 x 50.

Much of our current energy supply and the barriers to cleaner generation lie beyond the geographic boundaries of the city. Therefore, our 80 x 50 plan will be based on a regional strategy. We will partner with other municipalities, utilities, transmission owners, generators, and energy services companies, as well as State and Federal regulators, in order to achieve significant GHG reductions.

Promotes co-generation at city waste water plants. (p. 171) Uses fossil fuels. Design is underway to install a 12 megawatt cogeneration system at the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant. This CHP system will use digester gas, produced on site, as well as supplemental natural gas to generate electricity that will meet the plant’s base electrical demand, while recovering enough heat for the plant’s heating needs. Also Hunts Point and Wards Island.

  1. reduce regulator barriers (outside of NYC, no mention re NYC barriers such as with NYC building dept)


  1. promote renewable. (Vague, more state than city effort. Doesn’t discuss city role construction, community choice aggregation, etc. )


  1. increase percentage of wind. (p. 169) (Doesn’t mention off-shore wind, or Rockaways.) Discusses need for more regional cooperation and planning, purchase agreements.


  1. Adopt smart grid technology


  1. Expand decentralized power production.


Will promote community shared PVC solar. Additionally, the City will leverage direct capital investment, power purchase agreements, and emergent solar deployment models to attain the most cost-effective and comprehensive clean energy strategy.


  1. Achieve net-zero energy at in-city wastewater treatment plants by 2050


Emissions from the water and wastewater system are responsible for nearly 20 percent of City government emissions and wastewater treatment accounts for 90 percent of that.


Initiative 2 – Transportation

Develop a mode shift action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector


Despite widespread mass transit use, New York City’s transportation sector, which includes private vehicles, freight, and mass transit (subway, commuter rail, and bus), makes up 23 percent of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil fuels burned in passenger cars contribute 16 percent of the citywide total, while those in trucks are responsible for an additional four percent.


(Doesn’t mention congestion pricing, no car zones, etc. Doesn’t address the underfunding of mass transit. )


Select Bus Service, the expansion of bike networks and bike share, safer streets for walking and biking, expanded ferry service, and upgrades to the subway system. Will develop future plan to reduce dependency on private fossil fuel vehicles; greater use of low- or zero-emission vehicles; improved mass transit; and the continued development of zoning and parking policies to further these goals.


Supporting Initiatives


  1. Reduce carbon emissions from the City government’s vehicle fleet


Initiative 3

Build upon Zero Waste to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the solid waste sector


Every day, New Yorkers generate 18,500 tons of waste. Only a portion of this waste is recycled, composted, or converted to energy. Most of it is sent by truck to landfills, where it releases methane as it decomposes. Together, this adds up to over two million tons of CO2e a year, or four percent of the city’s total. (Details elsewhere)


Initiative 4 – Building Energy Use (P. 174)


(Note – this seems mainly continuation of existing effort.)


Continue implementation of One City: Built to Last to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by 30 percent by 2025, and chart a long-term path away from fossil fuels


One City: Built to Last. This comprehensive ten-year action plan aims to retrofit public and private buildings to reduce GHG emissions, generate jobs and business growth in construction and energy services, and provide operational savings to owners and tenants. One City: Built to Last has established an interim target to reduce emissions from energy used in buildings by 30 percent by 2025 from a 2005 baseline and reduce emissions by 35 percent in City-owned buildings to maintain a trajectory toward the 80 x 50 goal. In 2015, the City convened the Buildings Technical Working Group,


For the buildings sector, the City will retrofit every City-owned property with significant energy use and will install 100 MW of renewable power by 2025. For privately-owned buildings, the City will create a thriving market for energy efficiency and renewable energy investments and services,

establish world class green building and energy codes


In 2015, the City will launch the Energy and Water Retrofit Accelerator, which will offer technical assistance and education programs to help building owners make energy- and water-saving retrofits


The City will also launch a specific initiative for small and midsize buildings, with an initial focus on neighborhoods within Con Edison’s Brooklyn/Queens Demand Management Zone, which includes Brownsville, East New York, Cypress Hills, and Ozone Park.


The City has taken steps to expand renewable power on buildings. City government is leading by example with a target to install 100 megawatts of renewable energy on City owned buildings by 2025. (NOTE: SHOULD BE 100% )


In the private sector, the City has expanded the NYC Solar Partnership to facilitate solar PV adoption on private sector buildings and reach previously underserved areas through innovations in community-shared solar. The goal is to reach 250 megawatts of production capacity by 2025.




Zero Waste (p. 176)

Goal: New York City will send zero waste to landfills by 2030


(note: Talks about no landfills but doesn’t say no incineration; staff aides indicate no burning. Tish James promoted incinerators recently as chair of the council solid waste committee. Avoids supporting the plastic bag bill. Weak on reduction strategies – laws vs packaging)


In 2013, the City began a pilot curbside collection program for organic waste, such as food scraps, yard waste, and soiled paper. This program will continue to expand to serve a total of 133,000 households in all five boroughs.


Achieving a goal of Zero Waste by 2030. We will eliminate the need to send our waste to out-of-state landfills, thus minimizing the overall environmental impact of our trash.. We have set an ambitious target of reducing the amount of waste disposed of by 90 percent by 2030 from a 2005 baseline.


expansion of the NYC Organics curbside collection and local drop-off site programs to serve all New Yorkers by the end of 2018. It also aims to implement single-stream recycling collection for metal, glass, plastic, and paper products by 2020. (Note: this requires better recycling sorting equipment)


(Comment – NYC has been bad on recycling and solid waste for decades. The report says mostly the right things. Follow through will be the test)

Initiative 1 – Expand the New York City Organics program to serve all New Yorkers by the end of 2018


To meet our goal of Zero Waste, we will expand the NYC Organics program by increasing curbside organics collection and convenient local drop-off sites. (So does this mean NO to citywide curbside pickup?)


Supporting Initiatives


  1. Develop additional organics sorting and processing capacity in New York City and the region


  1. Process 250 tons of food waste per day at City WWTPs and assess long-term feasibility of scaling up processing of organic food waste. In 2013, the City launched a pilot program at an existing WWTP to process food waste in anaerobic digesters, boosting the production of renewable biogas on-site.


  1. Expand community composting opportunities in all five boroughs


New York City has 225 community composting sites, and we will work to expand this number by establishing new sites in neighborhoods across the five boroughs.


Initiative 2 – Enhance the City’s curbside recycling program by offering single-stream recycling by 2020


(Doesn’t discuss investing in the sorting technology that makes this work – wonder if they expect the private sector to fund this? Talks about all the things that NYC has failed to do for decades re expanding markets, etc. We will see.)


Initiative 3 – Reduce the use of plastic bags and other non-compostable waste


(Evades the solution. ) Will negotiate with city council on present legislation. (Bill has been in existence for 2 years with little feedback from the Mayor)


Initiative 7 – Develop an equitable blueprint for a Save-As-You-Throw program to reduce waste

(Good idea. But will be far more controversial than the plastic bag fee bill which they have failed to support.)

Volume based incentives for residents and property owners can lead to reduced waste volumes and higher recycling rates, thereby reducing disposal costs and cutting back the environmental impacts of landfilling waste.


City will assemble a working group of representatives from the Administration, City Council, affordable housing advocates, tenant associations, property managers, environmental advocates, good-government groups, and many others.


Initiative 8

Reduce commercial waste disposal by 90 percent by 2030

New York City’s commercial establishments—offices, restaurants, hotels, shops, and manufacturers—create an estimated three million tons of waste per year, less than one-third of which is currently recycled.


  1. Require all food service establishments to source-separate food waste


Other points

Air quality

 Accelerate conversions of residual heating oil boilers in buildings (p. 191)

 At the beginning of 2012, there were about 5,300 boilers in the city that still fired #6 fuel oil, the heavy heating oil associated with the highest levels of air pollutant emissions. By July 2015, the City will no longer issue permits to use #6 fuel oil, so all boilers must switch to gas, #2 oil, or #4 oil. As a result of the City’s targeted outreach and enforcement efforts, approximately 90 percent of boilers on #6 have been converted. Nonetheless, residual oil (#4) will continue to be used by several thousand devices as owners have until 2030 to switch from #4 oil to the less-polluting #2 oil, or gas.


Complete phase out of heavy heating oil (#4 and #6) in New York City could prevent 80 deaths per year and avoid 200 hospitalizations and hospital emergency department visits for heart and lung disease. In addition, it is estimated that 39 percent of the boilers in buildings over 25,000 square feet that still use heavy oil are located in the highest poverty neighborhoods in the city.




Resiliency (213)

Sandy claimed the lives of 44* New Yorkers and caused $19 billion in damages and lost economic activity.


According to the middle range of these projections, sea levels are expected to rise 11 inches to 21 inches by the 2050s, and 22 to 50 inches by 2100. Using the highest estimate of current projections, sea levels could rise as much as six feet by 2100. With this projected rise in sea level, the city’s floodplain will continue to expand, creating more frequent and intense flooding, and underscoring the city’s growing vulnerability to the many impacts of climate change.


In partnership with 100 Resilient Cities (an organization pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation dedicated to fostering the resiliency of cities), New York City will continue to lead the way toward a more resilient future.


HEAT. The City is putting a new emphasis on protecting New Yorkers from acute and chronic heat, including an urban heat island working group, efforts to understand the need for better ambient air temperature data collection across the city, and an analysis of natural infrastructure and its impact on the urban heat island effect.



Land Use Policy


The City’s 2013 climate resiliency plan recommended further study into how land use policy can be a tool for resiliency.


The strengthening of social networks and planning within a community are also critical to enhancing resiliency.

Initiative 2 -Improve emergency preparedness and planning

Resiliency starts with preparation. Securing physical assets for emergency response such as a power generators, light towers and others are a critical first step. The City, through NYC Emergency Management (NYC EM), will expand

public education efforts so that all New Yorkers know the risks they face during extreme weather events and other disasters, and how to prepare and respond. The City will invest in emergency shelter sites to accommodate 120,000 vulnerable New Yorkers—an improvement on the current capacity of 100,000


Initiative 4 – Ensure that workforce development is a part of all resiliency investments

As the City advances its more than $20 billion resiliency capital investment program, residents impacted by Sandy will have opportunities to access employment and the training needed to be eligible for the construction jobs these investments will create.





Goal: The city’s buildings will be upgraded against changing climate impacts

Newly constructed buildings in New York City are designed to meet current codes that promote safety and energy efficiency. But the vast majority of city buildings— our homes, schools, workplaces, businesses, and places of worship—were constructed before most modern standards were in place. There is a significant need to adapt buildings across the five boroughs to withstand and recover from extreme weather events and other hazards, while continuing to serve residents and businesses during normal conditions.


(Comment – buildings should go to net zero carbon emissions ASAP. Worrisome that more details here than on energy retrofits for buildings.)




The City commits to repairing critical infrastructure systems damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, while mitigating future climate risks through billions of dollars in funds from FEMA’s public assistance grant program. The City is providing a required local match of funds in order to secure these resources.


Working with other regional partners, the City will invest in the resiliency of its transportation infrastructure, including ferries, tunnels, movable bridges, traffic signals, and streets, through the elevation or dry-proofing of facilities and systems, the hardening of conduits, enhanced continuity of operations planning, and mitigation strategies, such as hardening of street ends and green infrastructure for storm water management.


The City will work to ensure the resiliency of our freight network in the face of climate change by hardening our ports, rail, staging areas, and warehouses. The City is undertaking planning exercises to identify vulnerabilities to the freight network, improve redundancy, and provide resiliency strategies for at-risk infrastructure through partnerships with City agencies and the private sector.


Further, the City is planning for green infrastructure installations across the five boroughs, including bioswales, rain gardens, permeable pavement, and green roofs to reduce the amount of stormwater entering the sewer system, thus helping to keep the sewers from exceeding their capacity. The City is also investing in the resiliency of its wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations by implementing measures such as elevating and flood-proofing equipment, constructing barriers, and installing


Initiative 2 – Adopt policies to support infrastructure adaptation

The City will use the best available climate science, as well as robust research, legislative action, advocacy, and regional coordination to adapt the city’s infrastructure to be resilient against disruption. It is critical to standardize the process by developing and implementing a set of design guidelines for resiliency to ensure what we build adheres to the highest performance standards. By 2018, we aim to have all New York City agencies adopt standardized resiliency design

guidelines for streets,



Coastal Defense


Goal: New York City’s coastal defenses will be strengthened against flooding and sea level rise


Over the next ten years, the City will strengthen its coastal defenses by completing many vital projects in all five boroughs, including:


  • An integrated flood protection system for the east side of Manhattan and in Lower Manhattan south of Montgomery Street to the northern end of Battery Park City


  • Armored levee and stormwater management on the East Shore of Staten Island, in partnership with USACE


  • Investments on the Rockaway peninsula beaches and in Jamaica Bay, as part of the USACE Rockaway Reformulation, plus further investments in Breezy Point (WHY?)


  • An integrated flood protection system in Red Hook, in partnership with the State


  • Coastal and energy resiliency improvements in Hunts Point to protect the city’s food distribution center from flooding and power loss


  • Investments to improve low-lying shorelines across the city, including in Coney Island and the South Shore of Staten Island


  • Nature-based measures in Jamaica Bay, such as those at Sunset Cove in Broad Channel and Spring Creek in Howard Beach


To deepen public participation in the implementation of this coastal protection plan, the City will also reestablish and expand the Waterfront Management Advisory Board (WMAB) to advise the City on the waterfront, including coastal resiliency, natural resources, and related waterfront topics.




Comments from ALIGN / Climate Works


In just a few months, the Climate Works for All coalition advanced our platform via meetings with the city, open letters, and mobilization. The equity agenda integrated into OneNYC is a testament to our hard work together in pushing for what’s important to us as a coalition. Many of our priorities are reflected in OneNYC:

* Encourage “First Look” and targeted hiring for all OneNYC initiatives through Career Pathways; Leverage OneNYC investments to train and employ New Yorkers of all skill levels by leverage the City’s involvement in construction and in real estate transactions to create jobs and training opportunities for New Yorkers, and encourage targeted hiring, creating construction industry partnerships, and create direct jobs and opportunities by hiring for green infrastructure and providing training for energy efficiency positions. 

* Establish a new model for “triple bottom line planning” – Convene leaders to craft and identify the economic, environmental, and social indicators that should inform capital planning. Improve project scoping and design at DDC to incorporate equity, resiliency, and sustainability imperatives earlier in the capital development process.

* Retrofit every city building by 2025, install 100MW of solar on public buildings, and establish timeline for potential mandates” for retrofits of private buildings

* $30 million for stormwater management and other neighborhood resiliency projects in Coney Island and Rockaways, strengthen coastal defenses, prevent hospital closures

* Reduce commercial waste by 90 percent by 2030 and create a Zero Waste challenge program for large commercial waste generators

* Conduct a comprehensive study of commercial waste collection zones that could reduce inefficiencies and possibly create ancillary benefits, such as improved recycling rates, improved worker conditions and wages

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