City Limits: Pandemic Slows Down Efforts to Reduce NYC’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

December 9, 2020

Climate and Energy Justice, Coronavirus, Environmental Justice, Media Coverage, News, Renewable Rikers, Save Our Compost

Senior Staff Attorney Melissa Iachan spoke with City Limits on Mayor de Blasio’s inaction on New York City’s increasing greenhouse gas emissions. She cites the impending closure of community compost partner’s sites, as well as a delay in potentially transforming Rikers Island into a renewable energy hub, as examples of the administration’s failure to prioritize the climate crisis.

City Limits: Pandemic Slows Down Efforts to Reduce NYC’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

By Jarrett Murphy
December 8, 2020

According to the city’s detailed inventory, total greenhouse gas production fell nearly 4 percent between 2016 and 2017, but jumped 6.4 percent in 2018 before retreating 2.3 percent in 2019. In published reports, the de Blasio administration blamed extreme weather for the jump in 2018.

“I don’t think that extreme weather is the only factor,” says Melissa Iachan, senior staff attorney in the Environmental Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. “I do believe that this administration has taken its eye off the ball. This is an existential threat and directly speaks to the inequality that he was so concerned about.”

As the pandemic-induced fiscal crisis hit last spring, the city largely eliminated its organics recycling program, which aims to keep organic waste out of landfills, whose emissions contributed about 3.5 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas (GHG) total last year.

“We all know that tough choices had to be made” in the budget, Iachan says. But she feels the wrong choices were made. “The mayor really revealed his priorities.”

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