Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mayor Bloomberg Releases $20 Billion NYC Climate Risk Plan

Jun 11: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented -- A Stronger, More Resilient New York -- the comprehensive and ambitious report that analyzes the city's climate risks and outlines recommendations to protect neighborhoods and infrastructure from future climate events. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg launched the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) and charged it with recommending steps the City should take to protect against the impacts of climate change. Under the leadership of Seth Pinsky and using the foundation built through the City's comprehensive sustainability agenda, PlaNYC, the Special Initiative produced the 430-page report, with more than 250 specific recommendations to further fortify the city against climate events. The Mayor released the report in an extensive presentation to elected officials, business and community leaders and leading climate experts at the Duggal Greenhouse -- which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy and has since reopened as one of the Brooklyn Navy Yard's 330 businesses. The following are statements from the Mayor and key officials:

"The Mayor said, "Six years ago, PlaNYC sounded the alarm about the dangers our city faces due to the effects of climate change and we've done a lot to attack the causes of climate change and make our city less vulnerable to its possible effects. But Hurricane Sandy made it all too clear that, no matter how far we've come, we still face real, immediate threats. These concrete recommendations for how to confront the risks we face will build a stronger more resilient New York. This plan is incredibly ambitious -- and much of the work will extend far beyond the next 200 days -- but we refused to pass the responsibility for creating a plan onto the next administration. This is urgent work, and it must begin now. . . As bad as Sandy was, future storms could be even worse. In fact, because of rising temperatures and sea levels, even a storm that's not as large as Sandy could – down the road – be even more destructive… We have to look ahead and anticipate any and all future threats, not only from hurricanes but also from droughts, heavy downpours and heat waves -- which may be longer, and more intense, in the years to come."

"Seth Pinsky, Director of the Mayor's Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency said, "A Stronger, More Resilient New York' outlines a comprehensive strategy that will not only help our City's most-affected neighborhoods to rebuild stronger and safer, but will help make our entire City less vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In the 21st Century, it is the cities that confront climate change head-on that will be best positioned to survive and thrive. Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg's vision and leadership, New York City is doing just that, setting our city up, once again, as a model for the rest of the world."

"Marc Ricks, Chief Operating Officer of the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency said, "A Stronger, More Resilient New York' is the result of a massive effort by the Bloomberg Administration with the active involvement of an array of City agencies and expert advisors. We also benefited from a close partnership with State and Federal agencies, and from extensive input from elected officials, community groups, and over a thousand New Yorkers who participated in our public workshops. With this level of collaboration, I am confident that this report represents the very best thinking about how to make New York safer in the years to come."

    According to the release, the total cost of the more than 250 recommendations detailed in the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency report is nearly $20 billion -- a sum that assumes each proposal is implemented along the suggested timeline. The City can rely on $10 billion provided through a combination of City capital funding already allocated and Federal relief, as well as $5 billion from additional, expected Federal relief already appropriated by Congress. The report lists several strategies to cover the remaining $4.5 billion gap, including additional Federal funding and City capital.

    Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) commented saying, "This is an expansive blueprint for fortifying New York against the irrepressible threat of rising sea level. We look forward to studying the details of this comprehensive system of levees, floodgates, seawalls and other protective measures, including his promising proposals on the Bluebelt and dune expansion. This much, though is clear. Climate change is bearing down on the Big Apple big time. It's costing us big money, and those costs will only rise. As the Mayor said, 'This is the defining challenge of our future.' It's time to take action, as a nation, to reduce the carbon pollution that is driving climate chaos and threatening us all. The single most important step we can take is to cut the carbon pollution from our power plants, which account for 40 percent of our national carbon footprint. President Obama has the authority, and the responsibility, to do that, and the time to act is now."

    Adam Freed, Director of the Nature Conservancy's Global Securing Water Program commented saying, "Building on the significant progress of PlaNYC, the SIRR report lays out a bold agenda to redesign and reimagine a resilient New York City for a changing climate. By recognizing the important role of natural infrastructure like dunes, wetlands, mussel and oyster beds, trees and parklands; finding ways to integrate natural and grey infrastructure; and developing large and small-scale science-driven strategies, Mayor Bloomberg is helping secure the promise of a greener, greater, more resilient New York."

    Rachel Cleetus, a climate economist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) said, "New York City is at the forefront of this work. The city has a team of people working on this issue and has dedicated time and energy to determine what needs to be done to minimize its risks. For example, they have carefully mapped the city's flooding risk using the latest science on sea level rise projections and exposure to storm surge. Scores of smaller municipalities, especially those along coasts dealing with sea level rise and worsening storm surge, are still trying to assess their risks and are struggling to figure out what to do to adapt. . . Some very small towns, with limited tax bases, were walloped by Sandy. Congress should enact a nationwide plan to help all cities adapt, especially those with limited resources. Critical to these adaptation efforts is locally relevant scientific information that would help communities understand their risks and weigh their adaptation options. At the roundtable, just about all the municipalities present voiced a need for this information. Congress should authorize and provide funds for FEMA to update its flood maps to take into account the latest science on sea level rise projections, so communities can plan accordingly. . . "

    Access a lengthy release from the Mayor and overview of the report (click here). Access the 38-page main body of the report (click here). Access links to the complete report including supplementary information and individual chapters (click here). Access a slide presentation of the plan (click here). Access links to more information and a video on the NYC home page (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release and link to more information from the Nature Conservancy (click here). Access a release and link to a report by UCS on why sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate (click here). [#Climate]

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