Outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently unveiled a ten-year climate resiliency action plan for New York City – a reprioritization of the goals laid out in PlaNYC in response to Hurricane Sandy’s whopping impact.
Why would a mayor in his final six months on the job push a massive plan that, by his own account, will not be completed until long after he has left office?
Aside from the dramatic uptick in extreme weather events that have battered the city in recent years, a quick look at the platforms of the top four Democratic candidates may reveal Bloomberg’s sense of urgency:
• Poll frontrunner Christine Quinn and former candidate Bill Thompson currently lack any environmental agenda beyond references to past actions.
• Social media pioneer Anthony Weiner briefly touches on reinforcing our shorelines but not before calling for the public subsidization of flood insurance premiums to rebuild in known floodplains.
• Only Public Advocate Bill de Blasio presents a somewhat coherent climate action plan which focuses on more efficient buildings, clean energy, green jobs and low-emission vehicles.
The price tag of Bloomberg’s proposal is $20 billion. That may leave some questioning whether this is the pipedream of an out-of-touch billionaire. To the contrary, this particular billionaire has been one of the most prescient and outspoken leaders on the need for immediate and decisive action on climate change during his tenure.
To provide context, the price tag of the devastation to New York City following Superstorm Sandy was $19 billion. Considering the economic damage caused by a single storm, a ten-year $20 billion investment into the city’s infrastructure is a bargain. Also considering the economic and personal toll caused by that storm, the public is very interested in what steps the next mayor intends to take.
When it comes to environmental issues, their interconnectedness with public health, safety and the economy, and how vulnerable we all are to climate change, Mayor Bloomberg understands the threat we face. People may disagree with the mayor’s plan, but at least he has one. With billions in damage, dozens dead and thousands left homeless, New Yorkers should not let those who wish to replace him get away with not having an agenda to cut greenhouse gas emissions and harden the city against future storms.
Read more of Conor Bambrick's blogs.