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PR- 308-08
August 12, 2008


Representatives from Government and Industry, Including Top Climate Change Scientists, Gather at City Hall to Chart Response to Effects of Changing Climate

More Frequent and Powerful Storms will Affect Coast Areas, Rising Temperatures Will Strain Electric Grid

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today launched the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force and the New York City Panel on Climate Change through to develop adaptation strategies to secure the City's infrastructure from the effects of climate change. The task force, which was one of the 127 initiatives proposed in PlaNYC, the City's long-term sustainability plan, is made up of City and State agencies, authorities and private companies that operate, maintain, or control critical infrastructure in New York City. Advising the task force is a panel of experts from academic institutions and the legal, engineering, and insurance industries. These groups will begin the process of creating a coordinated plan to adapt our roads, bridges, and tunnels; mass-transit network; water and sewer systems; electric, gas, and steam production and distribution systems; telecommunication networks; and other critical infrastructure. This effort is one of the most comprehensive and inclusive strategies ever launched to secure a City's critical infrastructure against the effects of climate change. The Rockefeller Foundation's Climate Change Resilience program has awarded a $350,000 grant to fund the work of the Panel on Climate Change.

"We face two urgent challenges - both of which we're responding to as part of PlaNYC," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "First, we have to shrink our carbon footprint to slow climate change. Second, we have to adapt to the environmental changes that are already beginning to take place, For example, raise critical infrastructure, like back-up generators, to higher ground in areas prone to flooding. Changes in the way we maintain and operate our infrastructure can help secure our City."
"The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to help New Yorkers blueprint and build a more sustainable future as a part of our $70 million commitment to strengthen community resilience to climate change," said Peter Madonia, the Rockefeller Foundation's Chief Operating Officer.  "This New York City Panel on Climate Change will shape innovative approaches to cope with global warming's potentially devastating consequences in our hometown and model the kind of planning which can and should be applied in cities around the world."

"Experts at Columbia University's Earth Institute are pleased to offer scientific and technical expertise to assist the City of New York with its climate adaptation plans," said Cynthia Rosenzweig, Senior Research Scientist and Co-Chair of the City Panel on Climate Change. "It is our hope that cities in the United States and around the world will use New York City's planning process as a model to respond effectively to climate change challenges."

"We commend Mayor Bloomberg's leadership on climate change," said William Solecki, Director, Institute for Sustainable Cities at Hunter College and Co-Chair of the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. "We look forward to building on the important work the scientific community has already done on these issues and helping New York City find specific solutions to adapt to climate change."

While much of the world's efforts have focused on mitigating the impact of climate change, some impacts are certain to occur, regardless of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. For this reason, the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force will:

  • create an inventory of existing infrastructure that may be at-risk from the effects of climate change;
  • develop coordinated adaptation plans to secure these assets based on New York City-specific climate change projections;
  • draft design guidelines for new infrastructure that take into account anticipated climate change impacts; and
  • identify adaptation strategies for further study that are beyond the scope of individual stakeholders.

The task force will be assisted by a technical advisory committee, the New York City Panel on Climate Change, made up of leading experts from regional academic institutions and the legal, engineering, and insurance industries. The Rockefeller Foundation's generous grant will fund the creation of New York City Panel on Climate Change, modeled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The committee will be chaired by Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig of the Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research/NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Dr. William Solecki of Hunter College's Institute for Sustainable Cities. The New York City Panel on Climate Change will:

  • develop a unified set of climate change projections for New York City;
  • create a set of tools to help task force members identify at-risk infrastructure and develop adaptation strategies;
  • write draft protection levels to guide the design of new infrastructure; and
  • issue a technical report on the localized effects of climate change on New York City-similar to the IPCC's landmark 2007 report on global climate change.

The City Department of Environmental Protection first issued an adaptation plan for its assets in May 2008, and this task force will build on their efforts.

Climate Change Adaptation Task Force Members
City Agencies
State Agencies/Authorities
Other Stakeholders
Dept of Buildings Dept of Environmental Conservation Astoria Energy LLC
Dept of City Planning Dept of Transportation Con Edison
Dept of Design and Construction Metropolitan Transportation Authority NationalGrid
Dept of Environmental Protection NY Power Authority NRG Energy
Dept of Parks & Recreation NYS Public Service Commission US PowerGen
Dept of Sanitation NJ Transit Verizon
Dept of Transportation Port Authority of NY/NJ Cablevision
Economic Development Corporation State Emergency Management Office Time Warner
Office of Emergency Management   AT&T
Office of Management and Budget   Sprint Nextel
    NY Independent Systems Operators

New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) Members
Cynthia Rosenzweig (co-chair) Columbia University Director, Center for Climate Systems Research
William Solecki
City University of New York Director, CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities
Reginald Blake New York City College of Technology Professor of Physics
Malcolm Bowman SUNY-Stony Brook Professor of Physical Oceanography,
Distinguished Service Professor at the Marine Sciences Research Center
Andrew Castaldi Swiss Reinsurance America Corporation Senior VP and Head of Catastrophe Perils in the Americas
Arthur DeGaetano Cornell University Director of the Northeast Regional Climate Center
Craig Faris Oliver Wyman Director
Vivien Gornitz Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research
Klaus Jacob Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University Special Research Scientist
Alice LeBlanc American International Group (AIG) Director, Office of Environment & Climate Change, Corporate Affairs
Valentine Lehr, P.E. Lehr Consulting International Principal
Robin Leichenko Rutgers University Associate Professor and Graduate Director in the Department of Geography
Edna Sussman Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney, LLP Of Counsel
Gary Yohe Wesleyan/UCS Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics
Rae Zimmerman New York University Professor of Planning and Public Administration/Director, Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems


Stu Loeser / Jason Post   (212) 788-2958

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