FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tina Posterli, 516-526-9371, email@example.com
Council Votes 44-0 to address impact of climate change on New York City and its most vulnerable citizens, expand public engagement
Ossining, NY – August 22, 2012 – Riverkeeper applauds the New York City Council’s enactment of legislation [Intro No. 834-A] creating a permanent panel on climate change and a community-based task force on climate change adaptation. This legislation expands on and institutionalizes Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s NYC Panel on Climate Change, created in 2008, while also adding an important new commitment to public engagement and consideration of climate change’s impacts on the City’s most vulnerable residents and communities.
Riverkeeper is particularly appreciative of amendments made to the original version of this bill since April 25, 2012, when numerous groups, including our own, testified before the Council about the need to protect communities at increased risked of harm from climate change, such as areas in proximity to low-lying waterfronts, as well as low-income communities and communities where age, illness or language barriers create disproportionate risks. The version of the bill enacted today requires that these “vulnerable populations” receive particular consideration, as the City creates its strategy for dealing with the impacts of climate change.
Not only does Intro No. 834-A make permanent Mayor Bloomberg’s NYC Panel on Climate Change and create a new “NYC Climate Change Adaptation Task Force,” where government and civic leaders will plan together for dealing with climate change’s impacts, the bill also requires the panel to create locally-based communications strategies to ensure that all city residents can be informed about how to deal with impacts of climate change, like extreme temperatures, more intense storms and higher sea levels.
Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper, stated: “Today’s vote by New York City Council is a victory for New York City residents and for participatory democracy. It exemplifies the spirit of collaboration and inclusiveness that’s going to be essential if we are to deal successfully with the potentially-ruinous impacts of climate change. This legislation will further cement New York City’s position as a leader on climate change and will raise the bar, worldwide, for including community organizations and civic leaders in efforts to address this crucial issue. Kudos to the Chairman of the Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection, James F. Gennaro; the sixteen other councilmembers who introduced this legislation; and, all their fellow councilmembers who voted to make it law. Our appreciation also goes out to Mayor Bloomberg and his administration for their thoughtful efforts to help craft this important bill. We look forward to swift and positive action on this legislation, when it reaches the Mayor’s desk.”
“Int. No. 834, when passed and enacted, will be the first bill from any state or local government in the country to create an institutional government mechanism to assess the latest climate change science, plan for climate change impacts and implement adaptive strategies,” said Councilman Gennaro, who also authored the City Council’s 2008 New York City Climate Protection Act that made New York City the national leader in greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction by mandating a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by city government by 2017 and a 30 percent reduction for the city at large by 2030.
“Quite simply, New York City is doing what every local, state, and national government in the world should be doing with respect to climate change: working assiduously to reduce its own GHG emissions while planning and implementing adaptive strategies for the impacts of climate change. As Chair of the Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection, I would like to thank Riverkeeper for its thoughtful testimony on this bill, especially in regard to assuring that it includes a strong public engagement component.”