NYC un­veils a plan to cut build­ing emis­sion

Push for Paris ac­cord

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NEW YORK, Sept 16, (Agen­cies): New York re­vealed an ini­tia­tive that would man­date thou­sands of build­ings through­out the city be­come more en­ergy ef­fi­cient, the lat­est step in the city’s push to re­duce its green­house gas emis­sions.

The plan would re­quire that land­lords of some 14,500 build­ings with a sur­face area of over 25,000 square feet (2,300 square me­ters) mod­ern­ize boil­ers, water heaters, roofs and win­dows — or face an­nual fines ac­cord­ing to the ex­tent of the breach and size of the build­ing, the mayor’s of­fice said in a state­ment.

A sky­scraper of over 1.7 mil­lion square feet, such as the iconic Chrysler Build­ing, could in­cur an an­nual fine of some $2 mil­lion if its en­ergy use sig­nif­i­cantly ex­ceeds ef­fi­ciency tar­gets.

Un­der the new rules, land­lords would need to meet those stan­dards by 2030.

“We must shed our build­ings’ reliance on fos­sil fu­els here and now,” said New York’s Demo­cratic mayor Bill de Bla­sio in the state­ment, adding that the ini­tia­tive was a bid to “honor the goals of the Paris Agree­ment.”

The 14,500 build­ings in ques­tion — the city’s worst in terms of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency — ac­count for 24 per­cent of the city’s green­house gas emis­sions, ac­cord­ing to the mayor’s of­fice.

Mean­while fos­sil fuel con­sump­tion via boil­ers and water heaters is the pri­mary cause of green­house gas emis­sions in the city, re­spon­si­ble for 42 per­cent of the to­tal.

In Oc­to­ber 2012 Hur­ri­cane Sandy un­leashed fury on New York. In the dev­as­tat­ing storm’s af­ter­math the city has im­ple­mented ef­forts to tackle cli­mate change — which it has vowed to con­tinue de­spite Don­ald Trump’s de­ci­sion to pull out of the global Paris cli­mate pact in June.

The new mea­sures are ex­pected to re­duce to­tal emis­sions by seven per­cent by 2035 and cre­ate 17,000 jobs in car­ry­ing out the retrofits.

De Bla­sio

Hand­ing a ma­jor vic­tory to en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, a court cast doubt Fri­day on a long­stand­ing US gov­ern­ment ar­gu­ment that block­ing fed­eral coal leas­ing won’t af­fect cli­mate change be­cause the coal could sim­ply be mined else­where.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have been try­ing for years to block fed­eral coal leases on cli­mate-change grounds with lim­ited suc­cess. The rul­ing by the 10th US Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals will re­quire the US Bureau of Land Man­age­ment to pro­vide more data to sup­port its ar­gu­ment that coal makes no net con­tri­bu­tion to cli­mate change af­ter it’s burned in power plants. The BLM over­sees leas­ing of vast West­ern tracts that sup­ply much of the na­tion’s coal.

“This is big. And we’re cer­tainly go­ing to be wield­ing this and us­ing it to con­front other min­ing ap­provals both in the Pow­der River Basin and be­yond,” said Jeremy Ni­chols with WildEarth Guardians.

The Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians sued to block four leases that would al­low min­ing to con­tinue at the Black Thunder and North An­te­lope Rochelle mine, the two big­gest in the US by pro­duc­tion. Both are in the Pow­der River Basin, where vast, open-pit mines sup­ply around 40 per­cent of the na­tion’s coal.

In an­a­lyz­ing the leases, the BLM found that burn­ing the coal de­posits would re­sult in 382 mil­lion tons of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions an­nu­ally, or about 6 per­cent of the US to­tal in 2008.

But the BLM ar­gued that be­cause util­i­ties could sim­ply get their coal from mines that don’t lease fed­eral de­posits, block­ing the leases would have no net ef­fect on cli­mate change.

The ap­peals court wasn’t per­suaded, rul­ing that the BLM didn’t pro­vide suf­fi­cient data to back up that ar­gu­ment. It told a lower court to seek more anal­y­sis from the agency.

In the mean­time, min­ing will con­tinue at three of the con­tested leases the BLM sold to Pe­abody En­ergy and Arch Coal, the St Louis-based com­pa­nies that own the two mines. A fourth con­tested lease near Black Thunder hasn’t sold yet.

BLM of­fi­cials didn’t im­me­di­ately re­turn a mes­sage seek­ing com­ment. Wy­oming Gov Matt Mead, a staunch sup­porter of the coal in­dus­try, said he was dis­ap­pointed in the rul­ing but pleased that min­ing could con­tinue.

Wy­oming Min­ing As­so­ci­a­tion Di­rec­tor Deti also called the rul­ing dis­ap­point­ing.

Wy­oming’s coal in­dus­try has re­bounded some­what since com­pe­ti­tion from cheaper nat­u­ral gas made 2016 its worst year in decades. Around 500 min­ers were laid off in the state’s coal patch, and the state con­tin­ues to face an in­abil­ity to build new schools, which are funded by coal leas­ing.

“Wy­oming can con­tinue to cling to the past or get out ahead of th­ese changes by pro­duc­ing the clean power that con­sumers are de­mand­ing,” said Sierra Club Wy­oming Di­rec­tor Con­nie Wil­bert in a re­lease.

Travis

Canada’s en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter urged gov­ern­ments to move for­ward on the Paris cli­mate ac­cord Fri­day, speak­ing on the eve of talks over the agree­ment’s im­ple­men­ta­tion.

“We have no choice folks, our kids de­pend on us,” Cather­ine McKenna said in Mon­treal, where rep­re­sen­ta­tives from more than half of G20 mem­bers will at­tend a sum­mit on the global cli­mate pact.

Satur­day’s meet­ing was re­quested by Canada, China and the Euro­pean Union — who all reaf­firmed their com­mit­ment to the agree­ment when Don­ald Trump an­nounced the United States’ with­drawal in June.

Nearly 200 coun­tries agreed in Paris at the end of 2015 to limit or re­duce car­bon diox­ide emis­sions.

Their aim is to limit the rise in av­er­age global tem­per­a­tures to no more than 1.5 de­grees Cel­sius (34.7 de­grees Fahren­heit) by 2050, com­pared to prein­dus­trial lev­els.

The Cana­dian min­is­ter also cel­e­brated 30 years of the Mon­treal Pro­to­col on Sub­stances that De­plete the Ozone Layer, along­side the EU’s top cli­mate of­fi­cial Miguel Arias Canete and China’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive on cli­mate change Xie Zhen­hua.

“[The] Mon­treal Pro­to­col is a suc­cess story of gov­ern­ments, ex­perts, NGOs and or­di­nary peo­ple who acted to­gether to over­come the great­est en­vi­ron­men­tal threats in re­cent his­tory,” McKenna said.

“We have an op­por­tu­nity to ac­com­plish even more with the Paris agree­ment. If we keep work­ing to­gether we can achieve great suc­cess in the fight again cli­mate change.”

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