New York, NY – Mayor Eric Adams of New York City has revealed a bold long-term climate strategy called “PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done.” The plan includes considering carbon emissions targets when creating budgets and starting a program that offers financial help for installing solar panels in up to 3,000 low-income homes. The New York City Climate Cabinet, a group made up of 35 administration officials and external stakeholders, along with City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and council Environmental Protection Committee Chair James Gennaro, developed this newest climate plan.
Mayor Adams discussed the new PlaNYC during a press conference in southern Brooklyn, emphasizing the practical steps it will take to improve resilience, protect infrastructure, and save lives. He acknowledged the urgency of dealing with climate change, citing the city’s experiences with extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Ida.
“Climate budgeting” will be introduced in January 2024, according to Rohit Aggarwala, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner. This method means the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will start looking at how city agency budget proposals will impact carbon emissions and the city’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
This approach ensures that projects like building affordable housing, maintaining infrastructure, and providing food for students are evaluated based on their effect on emissions reduction targets. Aggarwala emphasized the importance of this method, stating that it will help align the city’s annual $100 billion operating budget and over $100 billion capital plan with its climate objectives. In partnership with City Comptroller Brad Lander’s office, City Hall is also launching the “Public Solar Initiative.”
This new public organization aims to put solar panels on the roofs of up to 3,000 low-income homes with one to four families, at little or no cost, over the next four years. The initiative will be funded by federal funds, which the administration plans to obtain through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
Through Public Solar, homeowners can let the city use their rooftops for solar panel installation at no cost and still benefit from the energy these panels generate. Lander pointed out that the program will make solar panels available to communities that usually couldn’t afford the installation costs, which can be between $15,000 and $25,000.
To better prepare the city’s coastal areas for rising sea levels, the administration is exploring the idea of creating an organization that can use federal and state funds to buy coastal properties from those wanting to move away from at-risk areas and repurpose the land for other uses. Aggarwala mentioned that the administration is currently identifying parts of the city most vulnerable to flooding and will likely focus a future buy-out program on those areas.