NYC introduces ‘climate first’ plan for spending decisions

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New York Construction Report staff writer

Starting this year, new management practices will be in place to help New York track progress toward climate goals, including annual forecasts of citywide and government emissions through 2050 and evaluations of capital projects for alignment with net-zero and resilience objectives.

Future investments will target flood resiliency, sewer infrastructure, emissions upgrades, and renewable diesel purchases.

Calling it a “groundbreaking move”, Mayor Eric Adams unveiled the climate budgeting plan as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 executive budget. The process will help council assess the climate impact of expenditures and identify areas needing more effort to combat climate change.

New York City is the first major U.S. city to adopt climate budgeting, already used in London, Oslo and Mumbai. The goal is to include climate priorities into all relevant spending decisions, helping the city achieve its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Big problems require big solutions, and few problems are as massive as climate change,” Adams said. “By embedding climate into our budget decision-making, we are changing the very calculus of government spending going forward and acknowledging that climate must be at the forefront of what we do.”

Additionally, all proposed sustainability and resiliency investments will be reviewed for their impact and cost-effectiveness.

The FY25 Executive Budget includes substantial investments to support these goals. This encompasses $4 million and 36 full-time positions to implement and enforce Local Law 97, $1.27 million per year for the Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing program, and $1.06 billion for reducing emissions from city facilities. Additional commitments include up to $85 million for transforming the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal into an offshore wind hub.

Since the start of the Adams administration, New York City has secured over $1.6 billion in federal infrastructure funds and nearly $700 million from the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, further supporting its climate goals.

The initiative has garnered praise from various stakeholders, including the Environmental Protection Agency, global city leaders, and local environmental organizations, highlighting its potential to set a precedent for other cities.

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