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PR- 057-12
February 15, 2012


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks as prepared today before KPMG International’s ‘Business Perspective on Sustainable Growth: Preparing for Rio+20’ Conference

“Thank you, Rob, for those very kind words. I don’t know that I really deserve them. But to paraphrase what the American humorist Jack Benny once said under similar circumstances: I’ve also got arthritis – and I don’t deserve that, either.

“Good afternoon, everyone. I want to thank KPMG, its global chairman Michael Andrew, and all of you for holding this conference here in New York: The only city that can claim basketball sensation Jeremy Lin… a championship football team… and a mayor who’s kissed Lady GaGa.

“And more to the point of this conference, it also is what we like to call the world’s ‘greenest, greatest’ city.

“To pick up on what Rob just said, we launched New York City’s ambitious PlaNYC sustainability agenda on Earth Day, 2007.  It took a comprehensive look at the most critical issues facing our city’s continued growth and prosperity through the year 2030: From creating more parks and open space, to improving air and water quality, to shrinking our impact on global climate change.

“And in the less than five years since that launch, we’ve taken long strides toward making the goals of PlaNYC a reality. For example: We’ve planted more than a half-million new trees throughout the city, and also added more than 200 new acres to our parks system. That means that more than a quarter-million more New Yorkers now have parks within a 10-minute walk of their homes.

“It also means that our streets are greener and more attractive for all New Yorkers and for the 50.5 million visitors that we host each year.

“We’re on the verge of launching a major bike-sharing program, like the very popular bike-sharing systems in London, Paris, and other cities. More than 30 percent of our yellow taxi fleet, the largest in the world, is now ‘green’ and uses hybrid power. We’ve banned the burning of the most heavily polluting grades of fuel oil – a big step toward our goal of giving New York the cleanest air of any major American city.

“In partnership with our City Council, we’ve also enacted the most comprehensive green building laws of any city in the U.S. They require large buildings to begin to make energy efficiencies that will reduce our city’s carbon footprint by 5 percent. To put that in perspective:  That’s equivalent to making an entire city the size of Oakland, California completely carbon-neutral.

“In fact, when we released PlaNYC, we set an ambitious target of shrinking New York City’s carbon footprint 30 percent by the year 2030. And today, we’re already almost halfway to that goal.

PlaNYC is also a completely business-friendly agenda. It’s about achieving sustainability in a growing New York.

“Our city’s population is now at an all-time high of 8.4 million people – and I’m happy to report that it’s continuing to climb. Our economy is also expanding rapidly in digital media, fashion, the commercial bio-sciences, and in other industries that we’re confident will continue to grow in the decades ahead.

“We’re actively encouraging that growth – by, for example, investing $100 million in infrastructure improvements to support a major new applied sciences campus that Cornell and Technion Israel Institute of Technology are teaming up to build in our city.  We see sustainability and that kind of economic growth as completely compatible with one another.

“Indeed, the improved quality of life and environmentally responsible civic climate that PlaNYC fosters help us attract the creative, innovative people who are giving our city its economic future. It’s also true that the challenges of sustainability can’t be overcome by government acting alone, or by the private sector acting alone. And that’s why to meet our goals we rely on public-private partnerships.

“We have, for example, created very strong partnerships with our real estate industry. That’s important both because of the huge role the industry plays in our economy, and also because, in this heavily mass transit-oriented city, our buildings, and not our autos, are the biggest sources of greenhouse gases and air pollution.

“So let me briefly describe three ways we’re working in partnership with our real estate industry to confront those problems.

“Number One: I mentioned earlier the city’s green building laws, which require energy audits and retrofits in our large existing buildings that will reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.  Now, when a company owns the building it occupies, it knows that the upfront costs of making efficiency upgrades pay for themselves in lower utility bills. In leased properties, however, tenants pay the utility costs. Then landlords have less incentive to be more energy efficient.

“So we’ve changed that dynamic.  Working with major developers, including Larry Silverstein, the developer of 7 World Trade Center, we’ve crafted ‘energy-aligned green leases.’ They split energy efficiency savings between tenants and owners, until any upfront investment is paid off. After that, the tenants realize the ongoing savings.

“In others words:  We’ve created a winning solution for landlords, tenants, and for our entire city.

“Now for example Number Two of partnering with the real estate industry: I also referred earlier to our ban on the dirtiest grades of heating oil. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most important public health measures we’ve ever taken.

“Burning these grades of oil has, year after year, put more soot in New York’s air than all the cars and trucks in the city combined. But rather than simply saying to landlords and building operators ‘Thou shalt not pollute,’ we’ve sent this message instead: ‘We want to help you do what’s right.’

“A task force we’ve convened of developers, building owners, and representatives of our utility companies – a task force led by someone the New Yorkers here will recognize as one of the leaders of our real estate industry, Douglas Durst – is doing just that.

“And as we work to phase out the use these polluting fuels, we expect this task force to come up with a range of ways to ease this transition.

“Now, both of those two examples concern the city’s existing buildings.  But, we’ve also got to build for our sustainable future – which takes me to my third example.

“Drawing on the expertise of more than 200 private sector technical professionals, we’re also ‘greening’ the City’s codes that govern renovations and new construction. That will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions even further; It will also cut energy bills by an estimated $400 million by 2030 – making New York a greener, more affordable, and more economically competitive city in the 21st century.

“Before leaving, let me say that the policies I’ve just outlined illustrate something very important about climate change action. And that is that New York, and the world’s other major cities – oftentimes in partnership with the private sector – are at the creative forefront.

“I’m privileged to chair the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group: A powerful network that brings the world’s great cities together to take action on climate change.

“Let me add that in doing that, we work very closely with someone you’ll hear from tomorrow: Former President Bill Clinton, who continues to be a source of leadership, and hope, in climate change action.

“The world’s cities also contribute to that hope every day. As the chair of C40, I can tell you that from Lagos to Mexico City to Hong Kong, cities around the globe are taking the lead in making our world healthier, more energy efficient, less congested, less polluted, and less endangered by climate change effects.

“And in the weeks and months to come, we’re going to be showcasing that progress, and working to advance it. In early March in Chicago, C40 will help lead, with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – the OECD – a roundtable on “green growth” with mayors and national ministers of finance and environment.

“We expect the outcome will be important new proposals for collaboration on projects fostering environmentally sustainable urban growth.

“And then in June, C40 will have a significant presence, and make a major climate change announcement, in Rio de Janeiro during the ‘Rio+20’ United Nations conference on sustainable development. The world’s attention will be focused there on what has – and regrettably, has not – been done since the first Rio ‘Earth summit’ in 1992.

“We intend to broaden that focus to include what is being done in the world’s cities. Because while the nations of the world have too often faltered in addressing sustainability, the cities of the world have forged ahead. By acting locally, the world’s cities are exercising an increasingly powerful, collective impact globally.

“Our cities are also where the majority of the planet’s people now live, and where future of the world is already unfolding. So I urge all of you to work in partnership with your cities, in ways similar to those I’ve described today, to ensure that they become more sustainable, and more prosperous, for us all.

“Cities are the level of government closest to the people. So when you work directly with cities, you’re helping produce benefits that are both immediate, and lasting.

“And the result will be the sustainable growth that we all seek, and that our world needs. So I applaud your commitment to that goal. And have a great conference in our city.”


Stu Loeser/Lauren Passalacqua   (212) 788-2958


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