FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2007
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG SPEAKS AT ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FORUM IN BALI
The following is the text of Mayor Bloomberg’s speech as prepared.
"Thank you, Peter, and good afternoon, everyone. Or as they say here in Bali: Selamat Siang. It's great to be here. This is my first visit to Bali-which, I'm sure you know, is the western-most of the Lesser Sunda Islands, first thought to have been settled around 3,000 BC, located eight degrees south of the Equator, with a surface area of 5,632 kilometers, famous for its music, dance, cloth, carvings, and over 280 species of birds.
"Alright, I admit that I got all that from my crack research staff back at New York City Hall or, as they call it: Wikipedia.
"I just wish I had time to see all the beautiful temples-and also to try some of that famous Bali Black Rice. But apparently, you need to start the process 24 hours in advance. Sort of like getting a parking space in Midtown Manhattan.
"Back in New York, Environmental Defense has worked very closely with us in developing our city's sustainability plan-which we call PlaNYC, and about which I'll have more to say a bit later.
"In fact a year ago, I asked Peter to be part of our Sustainability Advisory Board. But he stays so busy all around the globe that instead he nominated Andy Darrell, who is Environmental Defense's regional director in New York. And Peter: I'm glad you did. Because, frankly, Andy's even better than you are.
"Now, as Peter mentioned, tomorrow I'm addressing the final session of the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change. The schedule calls for former Vice President and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore to speak as well. Yes, I will be a tough act for him to match, but I'm sure that somehow, Al will manage. I'll be speaking for the international organization called ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability. And, by extension, for the 3.3 billion men, women and children-half the people of the world-who inhabit the cities of the Earth.
"It's a tremendous opportunity and responsibility. Because the voice of the world's cities need to be heard here in Bali, and at all future forums where climate change policy is debated and developed. That's not to diminish the international leadership we're trying to encourage here in Bali or the national leadership that I'm pleased to say is starting to emerge in Washington, D.C. Both are crucial.
"The fact that our Congress is seriously debating cap and trade legislation shows just how far America has come in just the last year. Enacting them would be a significant improvement on the inadequate status quo of voluntary carbon targets. As many of you know, I believe that there's an even better solution: A carbon tax. And I think it's time to have a robust public debate on both of these ideas-the kind of debate that will lead more Americans to understand why we have to take action now.
"Action also has to come from the cities that most directly confront rising sea levels, falling fresh water reserves, and all the threats that climate change and its attendant air pollution pose to our public health and our long-term futures. And because we're on the frontlines of climate change, it's little wonder that cities around the globe are taking action.
"London, Stockholm, and Singapore have successfully implemented congestion pricing of auto traffic. While cities from Paris to Delhi to one that I just left yesterday, Shanghai, 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, and Tokyo: these are just a few of the cities that are moving forward boldly. And I'm glad to say that in New York, we're learning from them all.
"More than 700 cities, towns, and counties worldwide also maintain an active network promoting international environmental action through ICLEI. The world's 40 largest cities have come together in the C-40 organization, whose meeting my city hosted earlier this year. And although our national government has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, some 700 US cities, representing 80 million Americans, have voluntarily agreed to meet Kyoto targets. That includes my own City of New York. We're committed to reducing our global warming emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030.
"That goal is at heart of our PlaNYC. But to be quite frank with you, addressing climate change wasn't PlaNYC's original goal. We began PlaNYC about two years ago as an exercise in strategic land use planning-an effort to prepare our city for growth that we expect will add nearly a million more 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 week in Bali: Global warming.
"Every one of these issues is inter-connected. And so we broadened our horizon. We began to think about a more comprehensive vision for addressing all of the city's long-term physical - and that includes environmental - challenges. 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 the United States, 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 with one million new trees, 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 we've set for ourselves: A 30 percent reduction in New York City's global warming emissions by the year 2030-including a 30 percent reduction in global warming emissions by City government itself over the next ten years.
"Now, as I said, we expect the city's population to reach nine million people by 2030. That growth-and the increased energy consumption that will come with it-would normally cause our carbon dioxide emissions to grow by 25 percent to 30 percent. So to reach our goal of actually cutting emissions by 30 percent from current levels, we've set out an energy conservation plan that has three principal elements.
"The first starts from the fact that the more than 900,000 buildings in New York City account for almost 80 percent of the city's carbon footprint. So we're making a major push to get public and private buildings to use energy more efficiently and cleanly.
"Under an Executive Order that I signed in October, City agencies are taking the lead. We're committing $80 million a year-equal to 10 percent of our annual energy costs-to reducing City government's production of heat-trapping gases. Building retrofits will play a big part in that effort. And just last Friday, the Climate Initiative led by former President Clinton agreed to facilitate energy-efficient retrofits in the more than 2,600 public housing development buildings in our city.
"A second major source of greenhouse gases is the power plants that generate the city's electricity. So we've focused on replacing old and heavily polluting power plants with newer, more efficient generators, and repowering or improving existing ones. We'll also promote the greater use of renewable power. Last week, for example, we set new City regulations that will make New York a leader in co-generation of power. They'll make it easier to install these technologies in our larger commercial and residential developments.
"By using heat that would otherwise be vented as building exhaust, cogeneration is more efficient than our average central power plants. Our overall goal is to take close to 11 million tons of carbon dioxide out of our air each year by the year 2030 through such measures.
"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's where our proposal for congestion pricing comes in. It would establish, on a pilot basis, an additional fee for driving into the busiest business districts in the city during the peak hours of the work week, and then invest those funds in badly needed mass transit projects.
"Our Federal Transportation Department has already made a pledge of more than $350 million to support implementation of a plan like the one we've proposed. We'd be the first American city to experiment with congestion pricing - and I'm very hopeful of making it a reality. We recognize that going first is always the hardest. But we've already made a great deal of headway on this issue.
"Congestion pricing has 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.
"That's because congestion pricing-like more than 50 of the other recommendations included in PlaNYC-won't simply affect global warming. It will also make our air cleaner and enhance our economy by reducing traffic congestion that costs our metropolitan region an estimated $13 billion annually, while also financing mass transit. And such self-interest is a big reason why cities are taking the lead in fighting global warming.
"In recent months, I've discussed environmental issues with mayors from London to Seattle to Beijing. And I can tell you that the mayors of the world's cities are the great pragmatists on the world's stage. They're interested in results, not ideology.
"That was clear to me when I hosted the C-40 conference in New York earlier this year. And to follow up, we're inviting leaders from dozens of major cities to New York next year for a two-day conference on global warming and air pollution. Two subjects right up Peter Goldmark's alley. Peter: You won't want to miss it-and we'll really need your help.
"But today, the world's focus is on Bali. That's because people everywhere recognize that time for discussion about whether global warming exists has passed. The science is clear. Now it's time for action.
"Mitigating climate change won't be easy. It will require all of us to change our ways. For example, an important topic in Bali this week is deforestation-a serious problem that is the main component of Indonesia's global warming footprint.
"New York, like many cities, uses tropical hardwoods-in our case, for our extensive beach boardwalks and also for the walkway on the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge. The physical properties of these hardwoods make them ideal for such uses. So finding adequate alternatives will be difficult. But we must try. And I want you to know that I've asked my Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability to work with the relevant City agencies, and present me, within the next 60 days, with a plan for reducing our reliance on such hardwoods.
"Indeed, the message that must come out of Bali this week is that governments and corporations, giant organizations and individuals, nations in the developed world, and the developing world: all must do our parts.
"We must work in concert toward immediate and realizable goals, even as we recognize that achieving them will be only the beginning of a very long effort. The world's cities will have a critical role in that effort.
"Cities have always been our Earth's centers of industry and invention. Now that creativity and enterprise have to be harnessed to address the greatest challenge that humanity has ever created for itself. The innovation that results will improve the quality of life for people around the world, and help save the planet that all our children will inherit.
"In New York, we presented PlaNYC on Earth Day. And in my remarks that day, I quoted this Kenyan proverb: 'The Earth was not given to you by your parents; it was loaned to you by your children.' And now, I think all of you would agree - it is up to us to return the earth to our children in better condition than we found it. Thank you, and may all your hard work pay off in these final days of this historic conference.
Stu Loeser (212) 788-2958
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