NYC unveils a plan to cut building emission
Push for Paris accord
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.
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.
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.”