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PR- 147-07
May 15, 2007


Mayor Announces New York Becomes First US City to Join the Climate Group

The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg's remarks as prepared. Please check against delivery.

"Seth, thank you for those very kind words.  I also want to thank all those who have played a part in making this historic summit a reality, including the Clinton Climate Initiative, the Partnership for New York City, New York City Global Partners and the Climate Group, which I'm pleased to announce that New York City has just joined. Also, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Foundation, Local Governments for Sustainability, and the summit's many generous corporate sponsors.

"Good afternoon, everyone-and welcome to New York, the world's most international city, and in that spirit, let me also say bienvenidos - wilkomen - huan ying and bienvenue. I could go on in a few more languages, too, but I don't want to start an international incident with my accent. 

"Somehow, that just wouldn't be in keeping with the strong, cooperative atmosphere of this historic climate change summit, which has brought governmental and business leaders from the world's greatest cities here, to what I modestly believe is the world's greatest city: the safest big city in America, which today has its highest bond rating ever, its lowest unemployment rate ever and a public school system with steadily improving test scores and graduation rates.

"What mayor worth his or her salt would pass up the chance to humbly point out these glowing facts? These are truly hopeful days for New York-a city that just a few decades ago was considered by many to be 'ungovernable,' with crime out of control,  parks overrun with weeds, subways in disrepair and many neighborhoods given over to wholesale abandonment and despair.   What a contrast with our city today!  We've worked hard to reclaim our city, and we've succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.  Now, building on our achievements, we can and must also meet the challenges posed by climate change.

"Because this is a decisive moment for New Yorkers, and for the people of all the cities represented at this C-40 summit. Since the first C-40 conference in London in 2005, the world's understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change has reached a true turning point.

"While we still have much to learn; and while continued scientific investigation of global warming therefore remains of the utmost importance, it is now crystal clear that such ongoing research must be matched by decisive action in the political and economic spheres.

"Because we now know beyond a doubt that global warming is a reality.  And the question we must all answer is, "What are we going to do about it?"  That's a challenge that we all face, because, as proud as we all are of the cities and nations that we serve, global warming also makes us all global citizens.  We are truly in this together.

"Let me quote to you some of the conclusions reached by Sir Nicholas Stern, the former chief economist of the World Bank, in his authoritative review of global warming published last October. Of the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on the global climate, he said: 'If no action is taken to reduce emissions, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the environment could reach double its pre-industrial level as early as 2035.'

"This would, he warned, produce temperature increases that would 'be very dangerous indeed, having serious impacts on world output, on human life, and on the environment.'  All countries would be affected, he wrote by 'risks of major disruption to economic and social activity on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.'

"That is, make no mistake about it, a very sobering judgment. But the first responsibility of any elected leader is to face the hard questions, head-on.  A boyhood hero of mine, former American President Harry Truman, once said that 'A leader has to lead, or otherwise has no business being in government.' And the participation of each of you in this Summit shows that you believe in that kind of leadership, too.

"We can, and should, also take heart from another of the conclusions that Sir Nicholas reached in his review of global warming, a conclusion also strongly underscored earlier this month in the final report made by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conference in Bangkok: That we do not need to choose between preventing climate change on the one hand, and promoting growth and development on the other. Because tackling climate change is the sensible-indeed the only-pro-growth strategy for the long term.

"Increasingly, business leaders, as well as elected officials, around the world recognize that this is true.  Now, undeniably, there's a strong element of enlightened self-interest-and even self-preservation-involved here.  And there's nothing at all wrong with that!

"As one CEO told America's Business Week recently, when it comes to the debate on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, 'Either you're going to be at the table or you're going to be on the menu.' But there's also a growing realization by business leaders that they can genuinely improve their bottom line by going green.

"Just last week, News Corporation, the $62 billion media empire headquartered in our city, but operating in 50 nations worldwide, announced that it intends to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2010.

"No one has ever identified Rupert Murdoch as a tree-hugger, but no one has ever accused him of being inattentive to business, either. And for that reason, it's worth noting some of his remarks.  'Acting on this issue,' he said, 'is simply good business.  Reducing our use of energy cuts costs.  Inviting our employees to be active on this issue helps us recruit and retain the world's best.'  And Rupert Murdoch is just one of a growing roster of top business leaders who are rising to the challenges of climate change.

"That's clearly demonstrated by the participation in this C-40 summit of so many top CEOs, including Seth, who have come to this summit to help shape, and then implement, the ideas that will emerge from this week's meetings.

"In combating climate change, the public sector must lead as well. Cities consume 75% of the world's energy, and produce 80% of its greenhouse gases.  So while global warming clearly requires action at the national and international levels, those of us in city government can and must also take a leading role. 

"And that's only natural, because Mayors are always on the front lines of solving problems that affect people's everyday lives.  Whether it's fighting crime, or improving the schools, or cleaning the streets, Mayors are responsible for coming up with solutions - and implementing them effectively.

"Doing that requires us to embrace innovative ideas, bring people together to support them, and hold ourselves accountable for getting real results. Global warming is no different and that's why cities across the globe are leading the charge.

"London, Stockholm, and Singapore have taken the lead in experiments with congestion pricing of auto traffic, while cities from Paris to Shanghai to Delhi are moving forward with major, modern mass transit improvements.  Chicago is dramatically greening its streets with thousands of new trees, and Berlin is leading the way in greening the roofs of that great city's buildings. San Francisco, Mexico City, Copenhagen, Tokyo - in fact, every city represented at this summit is doing its part.

"In fact, there's a counter-intuitive but hopeful truth about the relationship that our great cities have to global warming. And that is that even though we contribute so heavily to climate change, we also tend to be among the most environmentally friendly, sustainable places on earth.

"Because our stores often are within walking distance of our homes - because so many of our citizens commute to work and school by mass transit -  Because our houses and apartments also tend to be relatively compact and built close together,  our carbon footprint is reduced. 

"The factors that I've just named help account for why, among all American cities, New York is unquestionably the most environmentally efficient.  But that doesn't mean that New Yorkers intend to simply pat ourselves on the back and be complacent about how environmentally virtuous we are. Instead, we've prepared an innovative new strategy that will help us meet the challenges that climate change presents.

"This is our blueprint-or should I say greenprint?-for making the Big Apple truly the Green Apple.  It's the product of "PlaNYC," a process directed by someone you've heard from earlier today, our Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding, Dan Doctoroff. But to be quite frank with you, climate change wasn't the original focus of PlaNYC.

"It began life about a year and a half ago as an exercise in strategic land use planning, an effort to prepare our city for growth that is expected to add another 900,000 people to our population by the year 2030.

"But it didn't take long for us to realize that you can't formulate such a land use plan without thinking about transportation and you can't think about transportation without thinking about air quality.

"You can't think about air quality without thinking about energy and you certainly can't think about energy without addressing the central topic of this C-40 summit:  Global warming.

"Every one of these issues is inter-connected.  And so we broadened our horizon. We began thinking about a more comprehensive vision for addressing all of the city's long-term physical, and that includes environmental, challenges.

"To help us formulate that vision, we created a Sustainability Advisory Board, composed of leaders from New York City's private, public, and nonprofit sectors. And then we went to the people of New York City.  We held town meetings, presented detailed presentations to civic groups, and created an interactive website.  And we asked New Yorkers to help us develop solutions to the challenges of growth, an aging infrastructure, and an increasingly embattled urban environment. Let me give you a glimpse of how New Yorkers responded.

"The result of this process is an agenda of 127 detailed initiatives designed to meet ten major goals, including creating new affordable housing and open space… responsibly meeting our city's future energy needs and giving New York the cleanest air of any major city in our nation, among other ambitious objectives. Something very interesting emerged as part of the PlaNYC process.

"As we developed the initiatives making up PlaNYC, we saw that almost all of them, whether they have to do with encouraging transit-oriented housing, or improving natural drainage by greening our city streets, or promoting energy conservation in homes, businesses, schools, and City buildings:  You name it - virtually all of them will also cut greenhouse gas production, and will help us meet the ambitious and vital goal that Seth mentioned in his introduction:

"A 30% reduction in New York City's global warming emissions by the year 2030-including a 30% reduction in global warming emissions by City government itself over the next ten years. And in the time remaining to me this afternoon, let me speak about our greenhouse gas goals, because they are so critical to this summit's climate change agenda.

"Unless we act aggressively, the population growth that we anticipate-and the increased energy consumption that would come with it-would increase carbon dioxide emissions in New York City on the order of 25% to 30% above current levels by 2030.

"So to reach our goal of actually cutting emissions by 30% from current levels, we've set out an energy conservation plan that has three principal elements. The first starts from the fact that there are more than 900,000 buildings in New York City and they account for almost 70% of the city's greenhouse gas emissions. 

"So a major focus of our efforts will be encouraging the use of cleaner burning heating fuels, offering incentives for the use of more efficient heating and cooling systems and appliances, and other measures.

"A second major source of greenhouse gases is the power plants that generate the city's electricity.  So we will focus on replacing old and heavily polluting power plants with newer, more efficient generators.  We'll also promote the greater use of renewable power and this will, we believe, take close to 11 million tons of carbon dioxide out of our air each year by the year 2030.

"And third, we'll work to decrease transportation-related CO2 emissions, most importantly by reducing the number of vehicles on our streets and highways.  That will involve expanding our transit system, combined with an idea that has been successful in three cities that are taking part in this summit-London, Stockholm, and Singapore: and that is, on a three-year trial basis, congestion pricing on the streets of Manhattan below 86th Street.

"We'd be the first American city to experiment with congestion pricing -and going first is always the hardest.  But I'm very hopeful of making it a reality. 

"It's gotten an enthusiastic thumbs-up from America's Federal Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, and we think that makes our pilot program an excellent candidate for Federal funding to support its implementation. It's also been endorsed by a range of New Yorkers who, in the past, have all too often been at one another's throats.

"Think tanks from the left and right, organized labor and the business community, a broad range of editorial writers and columnists in our city's daily newspapers, people who normally can't agree on the time of day now agree that it's time to work together for New York's future, and support this idea.

"And I was just in our State capital in Albany yesterday, and I believe our vision on transportation is going to make some headway with the State leaders whose partnership is so crucial. Now, there is no one solution, no silver bullet, in dealing with climate change. But the key is to take action, immediately, and to hold ourselves accountable for results. We also recognize that our immediate goals are just a beginning. 

"Even as we work to achieve them, we will also aggressively encourage and employ emerging technologies, from increased use of solar energy, to safe and clean nuclear power, to the wider distributed generation of power by fuel cells. But we can't count on the technology of the future to do what needs to be done, urgently, today.

"We also know that, as a coastal city, we've got to prepare for the consequences of the global warming that has already occurred, including rising sea levels and the possibility of more intense coastal storms. And that has already informed the comprehensive emergency response planning that our City revised a year ago. There are unavoidable costs in adapting to, and reversing, climate change.

"But as Sir Norman Stern and others have found, such costs pale in significance compared to the potentially catastrophic financial, social, and environmental price of inaction - a price that would be paid by New Yorkers, and by people around the world.

"To avoid such immense calamity, what is required now is a new global ethic of responsibility toward one another, and toward the future of God's good earth. As he usually did, Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior has already stated the case far better than anyone else ever could.

"So let me leave you with some words he delivered at a college commencement address in 1961. Dr. King began by praising humanity's remarkable technological ingenuity, but then he added that: 'The great problem today is that we have allowed the means by which we live to outdistance the ends for which we live.'

"Our scientific genius, he said, has shrunk time and distance and 'made of this world a neighborhood.  Now, through our moral and spiritual development, we must make of it a brotherhood.'

"To which I would only add, sisterhood, too. May that spirit of shared responsibility and community inform our work together in this Summit, and when we return to our home cities, as well.

"Thank you once again, and God bless you all."


Stu Loeser/ John Gallagher   (212) 788-2958

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