De Blasio takes big steps away from fossil fuels

To close out the year, Mayor Bill de Blasio took two steps away from fossil fuels on Dec 22—He signed a bill to ban the combustion of fossil fuels in new buildings, and announced a divestment of funds related to fossil fuel companies. 

“New York City is proof that it’s possible to end the era of fossil fuels, invest in a sustainable future, protect public health, and create good-paying jobs in the process,” said de Blasio. 

The City Council was led by members Alicka Ampry-Samuel and James Gennaro in passing Intro. 2317, which puts NYC on track to becoming an all-electric city. Council Speaker Corey Johnson applauded the legislative body for getting it done. 

“We must take aggressive measures to adapt to and mitigate climate change. The science is indisputable – if we don’t make changes now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt global warming, our planet and our city will suffer long-standing and irreversible effects,” Johnson said. 

According to the law, buildings of all sizes must be constructed fully electric by 2027, with few exceptions; Commercial kitchens and emergency power sources get a pass. In newly constructed buildings, there will be strict limits on carbon emissions beginning in 2023. 

“If the largest city in America can take this critical step to ban gas use, any city can do the same! Thank you to the City Council for getting this done. This is how to fight back against climate change on the local level and guarantee a green city for generations to come,” de Blasio said. 

Outside of the legislation he signed, he also steered the city away from fossil fuels by divesting from partnerships that involve the emission of greenhouse gasses.

“This $3 billion divestment, along with our billions in investments in climate solutions, is accelerating our transition to a green and just economy and advancing a climate-friendly future for generations to come,” he said. In partnership with Comptroller Scott Stringer, the city is separating itself from fossil fuel reserve owners, meaning that billions in public funds will no longer support these companies. 

Stringer noted that many had a hand in this decision, including the trustees of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System and the New York City Board of Education Retirement System. 

“Today is made possible by so many people—the trustees whose leadership and steadfast commitment to our pensioners’ retirement security kept this process on track, investment experts who made sure that every step of this process was thoughtful and [fiducially] sound, to advocates who sounded the alarm about the growing financial and environmental risks posed by climate change,” Stringer said. 

Both of these movements are in an effort to limit the effects of climate change, specifically limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The City of New York is doing this by going carbon neutral by 2050. 

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