On April 10, 2019, the New York City Council adopted Intro No. 1253 – the largest effort in a series of bills known as the Climate Mobilization Act. Intro No. 1253 enacts new regulations to reduce the city’s current largest source of carbon emissions – the operation of buildings.
Jared Brey, in his April 25, 2019 article in U.S. News and World Report, “How an Evolving Movement Pushed NYC to Address the Climate Crisis,” states that “[i]n the city, around 70% of carbon emissions are produced by buildings, and around half of all building emissions are produced by just 2% of structures larger than 25,000 square feet that are covered by the bill.”
The level of development, population density and relative economic power of a city such as New York have made this bill particularly interesting to other jurisdictions around the globe which may be considering their own similar legislation. In his article, Brey cites David Miller, a former mayor of Toronto and the North American regional director for C40, a group of cities coordinating strategies to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement:
“I think what New York has done is globally significant … It’s really a huge step forward, using the city’s powers and influence to directly address a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions without waiting for the national government or the international community to act.”
Several other jurisdictions have already begun to approach this issue, generally either by passing bills or creating task forces to further investigate how to meet stated emissions reduction goals. In 2018, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed an executive order with a stated goal of net-zero carbon emissions within the state by the year 2045. The California State Assembly subsequently passed a bill creating a task force to investigate the potential to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses by both commercial and residential buildings by 2030, although their plan is not due until January 1, 2021. The city of San Jose has implemented new building standards for all new residential buildings to be net-carbon neutral by 2020, and all new commercial buildings must be so by 2030.