New York City Climate Action Tracker

April 23, 2020

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) launched its New York City Climate Action Tracker. This digital tool will follow the city’s progress on its climate goals from Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC plan. 

OneNYC was released in 2015 to make NYC the most resilient, sustainable, and equitable city in the world by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% from 2005 levels by 2050, building on the previous administration’s PlaNYC. Known as 80×50, the Mayor’s plan and its subsequent Roadmap to 80×50, outlines some of the most ambitious plans for reducing GHG emissions in the country, including drastically cutting emissions from buildings, the city’s number one source. The plan also includes initiatives for electrifying municipal fleets and expanding electric vehicle charging capability, significantly reducing the city’s waste sent to landfills, improving air quality, and more. In 2019, Mayor de Blasio released OneNYC 2050, a renewed strategic plan that commits the city to carbon neutrality, among other goals. 

NYLCVEF’s New York City Climate Action Tracker reveals that the city has made some progress, however greenhouse gas emissions have decreased just 17% since 2005, and only 3% since Mayor de Blasio took office in 2014.

Other initial highlights include:

  • The city is on track to meet its goal of 85% of New Yorkers living within walking distance to a park. As of 2019, 81.5% of New Yorkers can walk to a park. 
  • The city’s bike network is expanding. As of 2019, the city had more than 1,200 miles of bike lanes.
  • There is a long way to go to Zero Waste. There was only a 9.8% reduction in waste collected between 2005 and 2019 before Mayor de Blasio stopped the food waste collection program.

Many of the indicators and initiatives established in the original OneNYC plan have moved to new categories in the new plan or have disappeared completely. This lack of significant progress on reducing citywide GHG emissions and lack of continuity on specific initiatives has made it difficult to follow the city’s progress. 

That’s why NYLCVEF developed the NYC Climate Action Tracker, to hold our elected leaders accountable to their promises and to make sure these initiatives remain a priority. NYLCVEF decided to track initiatives and indicators from the original OneNYC plan, since the 80×50 goal was codified into law by the City Council in 2015, and the new plan, OneNYC 2050, leaves out or alters many of the original initiatives that NYLCV supports. We used the following criteria for choosing indicators to track:

  • Must be specific and measurable. The indicator must be included in public progress reports so that data is available.
  • Must choose indicators from multiple sectors that will have a collective impact on citywide GHG emissions reductions.
  • Must be set to be completed under or well underway during the current administration current mayoral administration.

Of the thirteen indicators used in the Climate Action Tracker, only seven are complete even though there is only a year-and-a-half left in the current administration.   

Other indicators include: 

  • Expand the organics collection program, 
  • Secure 100 MW of renewable energy for city buildings, and
  • Reduce the disparity of particulate matter across city neighborhoods 20%.

While we know that the city is currently addressing the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis still lingers. It’s up to groups like NYLCVEF to stay focused on our long-term climate goals, and make sure these goals remain a priority after the pandemic is behind us. 

This project was made possible with support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. 

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