BCEQ asks City to Pause City of Yes in Climate Emergency until it identifies a carbon baseline

December 16th, 2023 Posted in Board Meetings, Climate Emergency, Environmental Reviews, Front Page News, Green Infrastructure, Green Infrastructure, Low Impact Development, Project Green, Resiliency and Sustainability, Water Committee

In recent years we have experienced more frequent and increased rain events, or the new normal, with catastrophic flooding as a result. It is not an accident of nature; it is caused by humans. The changing climate is the most serious problem we face – it is an emergency! We do not need more development in every part of the city. We need a more environmental and sustainable city, before we can think of new buildings, we need to restore older ones. In 2019 NYC declared a Climate Emergency, yet weather events and flooding increased!

The Bronx Council for Environmental Quality (BCEQ) urges New York City to immediately make a serious commitment to a climate and sustainability policy that provides for establishing a baseline for existing carbon sequestration levels first, as the no impact and/or the lowest impact alternative, and comparing that to the increased carbon in any proposed zoning text. In this way, the established baseline for existing carbon sequestration levels becomes the no change or no impact alternative for environmental studies as well as other land use reviews or new construction. (Done right, builders can build. If it increases carbon, they need to trade in or pay for carbon sequestration – it could fund Green Infrastructures and maintenance.

Since concrete, cement and iron used in building housing, commercial or industrial projects, produces more impervious surfaces, adds more CO2, and exacerbates the “heat island” effect, it creates carbon. On the other hand, trees, green infrastructure, the restoration of wetlands; open space of the green permeable front yards; and, reuse gray water to grow rain gardens, green roofs, or green walls, capture the carbon created by development, among other things. We need numerical measures, like Total Maximum Daily Load for Carbon in the Air, or just CO2. (Note: we already have TMDL for Total Organic Carbon.)

BCEQ urges the New York City Planning Department, the City Council, Public Advocate, Comptroller, and Mayor to withdraw all the City of Yes proposals as they are premature without a carbon budget described in paragraph 2 above.

Passed by the Board of Directors on December 13, 2023 in the presence of a quorum.

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