PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done
New York City has been a leader on climate action since the release of the first PlaNYC 16 years ago, and today our leadership is more necessary than ever. Climate change has shifted from a threat on the horizon to a recurring aspect of our weather with impacts felt disproportionately in vulnerable communities – leading to hundreds of preventable deaths every year. At the same time, the benefits of climate action are increasingly clear in cleaner air, better mobility, safer homes, and growing green jobs and businesses. Responding to and preparing for climate change means improvements to our daily lives today, and a future that is more equitable, healthy, and resilient.
Read about the background of PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done, and the major challenges and opportunities it addresses, or access the full report here.
While a monumental challenge, climate change also presents an opportunity for us to reimagine our communities and to create a more equitable, healthy, and resilient future. Our plan will deliver near-term benefits to New Yorkers as we move toward achieving ambitious long-term climate goals.
Extreme heat, heavy rain, and coastal flooding all pose threats to our health and safety, yet our most imminent threat is heat, which kills more New Yorkers every year than any other type of extreme weather event.
We will protect New Yorkers from the impacts of extreme heat
- Maximize access to indoor cooling
- Cool our built environment
- Achieve a 30% tree canopy cover
Projections for increasing chronic tidal flooding, more frequent coastal storm events, and significant flooding from heavy rain events, demonstrate the need to act throughout the five boroughs to improve infrastructure and increase resilience for all New Yorkers.
We will prepare and protect New Yorkers from the risks of current and future flooding
- Create a new leadership structure for coastal flood resilience in 2023, headed by the Department of Environmental Protection
- Implement a multilayered strategy for flood resilience
- Launch a voluntary housing mobility and land acquisition program to provide housing counseling and facilitate future land acquisition with Federal and State funds
Buildings are responsible for almost 70% of New York’s total GHG emissions, which is why we must improve our existing buildings while driving toward new low-carbon construction.
We will improve building-level GHG emissions, air quality, and resilience
- Support building owners in complying with Local Law 97 emissions reduction goals by 2030
- Decarbonize affordable housing
- Pursue fossil fuel free City operations
- Reduce localized air pollution in NYC
- Reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry by 2033
Our current energy supply relies on fossil fuels and aging infrastructure, and results in some of the highest energy costs in the nation.
We will achieve a clean, reliable, and equitable energy future
- Maximize climate infrastructure on all City-owned property
- Connect NYC to clean electricity resources
- Assist building and homeowners with clean energy projects and solar installation
Improving Our Quality of Life
Our parks and green spaces are not equally distributed throughout the city and historic barriers mean there are fewer green spaces in environmental justice communities.
We will increase access to quality green spaces for all New Yorkers and restore forested areas citywide
- Create an accessible and connected network of open spaces
- Improve the health of our forested areas
A healthier harbor has made the waterfront one of the City’s most attractive features, but we must continue to protect our waterways and to make improvements in our wastewater treatment process, especially the reduction of combined sewer overflows (CSOs).
We will improve the health and ecological function of NYC’s waterways
- Reduce combined sewer overflows by more than 4 billion gallons per year by 2045 to improve water quality
- Develop a strategy to end the discharge of untreated sewage into the New York Harbor by 2060
- Improve the health and ecological function of wetlands
Safer, more bike-friendly streets, increased public transit ridership, less truck traffic, and more electric vehicles will make our city healthier and more sustainable, while supporting our growing economy and population.
We will cut transportation emissions in half by 2030 and ensure NYC’s streets provide a safe, clean, and livable environment
- Get polluting trucks off NYC streets
- Prioritize public transit, walking, and biking first
- Ensure every New Yorker can access a bike or scooter
- Help New Yorkers who must drive to drive electric
Food is the leading source of household consumption-based emissions in NYC, responsible for 27% of total emissions.
We will reduce carbon emissions from NYC’s food system
- Reduce emissions of City agency food purchases 33% by 2030
- Promote reductions in institutional food-related emissions 25% by 2030
- Reduce emissions from commercial cooking
- Support NYC’s watershed farmers in expanding sustainability practices and food production
Building the Green Economic Engine
Growing the green economy will unlock enormous investments and create a strong and resilient city today and for future generations.
We will accelerate an equitable green economy transition by advancing climate education, work, and entrepreneurship opportunities
- Launch new climate education and training programs for public schools
- Grow NYC’s green workforce
- Support entrepreneurship and industry innovation
76% of the 24 million pounds of waste collected every day by the Department of Sanitation can be recycled, reused or manufactured into new, usable products.
We will create a circular economy starting with organics and asphalt
- Expand production and use of recycled asphalt
- Collect organic materials and turn into energy and reusable assets
- Develop new markets and expand recycling and reuse
Getting Sustainability Done: Our Guiding Principles
With a focus on action, PlaNYC: Getting Sustainability Done builds on the prior four plans while it faces the challenges and seizes the opportunities that are specific to today. It is grounded in a comprehensive understanding of climate change impacts in the city as they are happening, as well as a more complete picture of our GHG footprint.
The following strategic approaches and principles will guide our actions through implementation:
The policymaking and legislation of the last 16 years has left a significant amount of work on the table. In some cases, this is by design, knowing that projects can take decades; in other cases, it is due to pandemic-related delays or the unimagined complexity of implementing groundbreaking climate laws and policies. This plan prioritizes implementation and getting sustainability done.
Due to their size and scale, many climate and equity actions are long-term by nature. Yet the New Yorkers of 2023 cannot wait for local benefits in job creation, protection from climate risks, or air pollution reduction. This plan prioritizes actions that have near-term benefits.
A long history of environmental burdens on low-income New Yorkers and communities of color has led to deep-seated health-disparities that are apparent in everyday lives of some New Yorkers. This plan centers environmental justice and health equity in every action we take, with an urgency to achieve near-term health benefits for environmental justice communities.
The investments we make today for climate action have the ability to contribute to the city’s overall economic recovery and long-term prosperity. Further, this is an opportunity to create good jobs for people of color in emerging sectors – allowing for long-term economic mobility.
Budget constraints have forced us to think creatively about how to fund climate action and what is most critical to moving the needle on our climate goals. This plan features new policies that will apply broadly to both the public and private sectors, while they highlight where the City is leading by example.
The City aims to be a model for other cities and nations and for the private sector, which is central to New York’s economy. Further, while the City sets ambitious policies across the public and private sectors, we recognize the need to lead by charting new pathways and testing new technologies.
Progress on our climate initiatives requires collaboration and investment from our Federal and State partners. Since both the United States and the State of New York are spending significant amounts of money on climate action and equity, and NYC contributes more to the Federal and State governments than it typically receives in return, it is critical that we fully leverage these new funding sources and obtain our fair share. As a result, several of the initiatives in this plan are dependent on Federal and State grants. A primary objective of the Adams administration’s climate policy will be to ensure that New York State’s climate action gives New York City residents and businesses their fair share of all types of funding and support.
To ensure that we remain focused on prioritizing climate change and environmental justice in our investments and decision-making, New York City will be one of the first global cities, and the first major city in America, to launch a Climate Budgeting initiative. Climate budgeting is a process that incorporates science-based climate and sustainability considerations into the City’s budget decision-making process by evaluating how actions and spending today contribute to meeting longer-term climate targets. The process will allow our City to understand the climate impact of the dollars we spend, identify where more investment is needed, and champion forward-looking investments.
Identifying process inefficiencies can help the City become nimbler and better able to deploy resources where and when they are most needed. In addition to the Capital Process Reform Task Force recommendations, Get Stuff Built: A Report of the Building and Land Use Approval Streamlining Task Force was released in 2022 and identified 111 ways the development process is broken, accompanied by recommendations for solutions that simplify and shorten the review and approval of new projects. By improving contracting and procurement efficiency, and the way we implement public projects, our City’s response to climate change will be expedited.