What NYC Can Do In Response To The IPCC “Code Red” Report

August 10, 2021

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body tasked by the United Nations (UN) with providing a comprehensive assessment of the current science on climate change released the  Working Group I report

yesterday, the first installment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), to be completed in 2022.

The report finds that “unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.” It also finds that all regions of the world are experiencing global warming, and that its impacts – including heatwaves, flooding, and droughts – are certain to become more frequent and severe.

The report released yesterday “is a code red for humanity,” according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

The IPCC report finds that continued reliance on fossil fuels has intensified global warming and extreme weather events, and severely shortened the window of time countries have to act in order to prevent catastrophic damage to the environment.

And it calls for governments to take bold, urgent action to address the crisis before it is too late.

New York City can take such action bypassing Introduction 2317, legislation that will prevent significant future greenhouse gas emissions, which are produced by burning fossil fuels and cause global warming, by eliminating fossil fuel hookups in new construction and gut renovations.

In New York City, buildings are responsible for about 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to deadly air pollution that disproportionately impacts communities of color.

In New York City, buildings are responsible for about 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to deadly air pollution that disproportionately impacts communities of color.

And by increasing the use of clean technologies, such as heat pumps and renewable energy instead of polluting fossil fuels, the legislation will also create new jobs in clean-energy design and construction.

Advocacy groups including New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), New York Communities for Change (NYCC), WE ACT for Environmental Justice (WE ACT), and Food & Water Watch (FWW) urge Speaker Corey Johnson and the New York City Council to urgently enact Introduction 2317, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and harmful air pollution while helping create green jobs that will reinvigorate the city’s economy.

Based on the brevity of the crisis, both locally and globally, New York City Council must act with urgency, starting with Intro 2317.

Tousif Ahsan, Civic Engagement Coordinator for NYPIRG, said, “The latest IPCC report only makes clearer what has already been known – the climate crisis will continue to get worse unless common sense laws are adopted that stop reliance on fossil fuels.

Here in New York City, and all over the world, it’s poor people and people of color who are hit hardest by climate crisis effects.

The New York City Council must show leadership by passing Intro 2317, which would ensure new construction does not rely upon fossil fuels anymore. Nothing could be more straightforward – the time for fossil fuels has ended.”

“My family lost everything in hurricane Sandy. People of color get hit the worst by the climate crisis. The scientists are telling us it will get far worse unless the politicians act. This report is a wake up call,” says Rachel Rivera, Sandy survivor and member of New York Communities for Change (NYCC).

“Communities of color and low-income communities have felt the impacts of the climate crisis for a long time. The latest IPCC report is telling us that we urgently need to take bold, immediate action to prevent the worst from happening. It is time to stop stalling good climate legislation that is going to get us off fossil fuels,” says Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “Our legislators have the opportunity to make a strong statement in New York City by passing Introduction 2317 now to limit the use of gas in new construction, and ultimately making a strong step forward in reducing use of dangerous fossil fuels in New York City.”

“The IPCC report makes it clearer than ever that we need much more than words from our elected officials – we need bold actions to move off fossil fuels at every level. The most meaningful action New York City can take now is a ban on new gas hookups. I urge Speaker Johnson to pass that ban, Intro 2317, now. New York City’s climate movement will not accept more delay,” said Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region Director at Food & Water Watch.

Photo credit: Flooding in Harlem subway on 135th Street.

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