January 31, 2022
Video available at: https://youtu.be/b7U_anRiNAo
Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Will Consolidate and Incorporate Four City Agencies
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced the appointments of his climate leadership team that will focus on environmental protection and environmental justice across New York City. Mayor Adams appointed Rohit T. Aggarwala as chief climate officer and commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Vincent Sapienza as chief operations officer of DEP, and Kizzy Charles-Guzman as executive director of the new Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice (MOCEJ) — which consolidates multiple city agencies into one. Mayor Adams highlighted these accomplished environmentalists’ proven track record of promoting cleaner air, advancing climate resiliency, and protecting New Yorkers.
“It is evident to anyone who opens their eyes that we are in the midst of a climate crisis in this city and around the world, so it’s time to think outside the box and determine how we can handle the crisis before it's too late,” said Mayor Adams. “This past year alone, we have experienced extreme weather anomalies and rising sea levels, which have endangered New Yorkers’ lives, their homes, and their livelihoods. The remnants of these different calamities are still being repaired to this day, but my administration is committed to transforming the city’s quality of life and fighting for environmental justice for all New Yorkers, and this team is exactly who will get the job done for New Yorkers.”
Today’s appointments signal the Adams administration’s commitment to rolling out a comprehensive system that will allow this city to offset the effects of climate change and unnecessary carbon emissions. Additionally, the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice will fulfill Mayor Adams’ key commitments to climate sustainability, environmental justice, and resiliency including:
The Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice also delivers on Mayor Adams’ promise of reducing waste and creating more efficiencies in government. The new office will consolidate the Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency and the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Sustainability, as well as incorporate the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Coordination and the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation. This new, streamlined office will provide an integrated approach to climate leadership by uniting four offices that had independently addressed remediation, resiliency, sustainability and environmental justice, and environmental review.
“Today’s team combines renowned expertise with deep, personal, lifelong commitment to protecting every New Yorker from the devastating effects of our climate crisis,” said Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi. “Bringing the full force of their skills and foresight to solidify today’s infrastructure and prepare for tomorrow’s underscores the Adams administration’s deep commitment to making New York City a more livable place today and for generations to come.”
“Making progress on climate requires not only good policies but also driving resilience, decarbonization, and environmental justice into daily city operations,” said Rohit T. Aggarwala, commissioner, DEP, and chief climate officer for the City of New York. “I’m excited to shape the city’s climate work on behalf of Mayor Adams and Deputy Mayor Joshi and am honored to lead the 6,000 men and women at DEP who ensure that New York’s drinking water, harbor, and air are safe and clean, and who are our front lines on managing stormwater. I'm especially grateful to Vinny Sapienza for agreeing to stay on at DEP, so I can rely on his deep operational expertise in managing this mission-critical agency.”
About Rohit T. Aggarwala – DEP Commissioner and Chief Climate Officer
Rohit T. “Rit” Aggarwala is a widely recognized expert on urban sustainability, technology, and mobility. He led the creation of the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, founded the environmental grantmaking program at Bloomberg Philanthropies, and served as president of the Board of Directors of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. He was part of the founding team at Sidewalk Labs — Google’s urban technology startup — and more recently was a senior urban tech fellow at the Jacobs Cornell-Technion Institute. He has provided advice and assistance to a number of foundations and impact investment funds and chaired the Regional Plan Association’s Fourth Regional Plan for the New York region. Aggarwala holds a PhD, MBA, and BA from Columbia University and an MA from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
Aggarwala will report to Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi.
“Increasingly intense storms, warmer temperatures, and rising sea levels threaten the ability to provide ample amounts of high-quality drinking water and keep city streets from repeatedly flooding,” said Vincent Sapienza, chief operations officer, DEP. “I’ve had the great privilege of working shoulder-to-shoulder with an incredibly talented team at DEP, and I’m eager to continue working with them alongside Rit and Kizzy to coordinate and accelerate our environmental initiatives and combat these issues.”
About Vincent Sapienza – DEP Chief Operations Officer
Vincent Sapienza has dedicated his career to protecting and improving New York City’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Sapienza served in three senior positions within DEP, leading the Bureau of Wastewater Treatment from 2009 through 2014, then heading the Bureau of Engineering, Design and Construction through 2016, and then as commissioner for the past five years. Sapienza is a New York State licensed professional engineer and holds a BS from Columbia and an MBA from Hofstra.
Sapienza will report to Aggarwala in his role as DEP Commissioner.
“I am thrilled and honored to continue to serve my city, doing urgent and critical work in the face of a climate crisis,” said Kizzy Charles-Guzman, executive director, Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice. “My team will focus on helping New Yorkers access the benefits of our climate actions and investments today, while also improving our environment, adapting our neighborhoods, and preparing for the challenges of tomorrow.”
About Kizzy Charles-Guzman – Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice
Kizzy Charles-Guzman has spent over 15 years of her New York City service developing and delivering work at the intersection of sustainability, climate policy, public health, resiliency, and racial equity. She led the development of Cool Neighborhoods NYC, the city’s first strategy to address the impacts of rising temperatures and heatwaves, and several adaptation initiatives to ensure that New York City residents are ready to withstand and emerge stronger from the impacts of climate change. Charles-Guzman served as a deputy director at the Mayor’s Offices of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency, as director of the Climate Change and Health Program at the New York City Department of Health, and as policy advisor on air quality during the Bloomberg administration. She received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Quality Award and a Champion of Change Award from the White House in recognition of her work. She is a graduate of Carleton College and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Charles-Guzman will report to Aggarwala in his role as chief climate officer.
“Investing in clean energy and resilient infrastructure is key to addressing the impacts of climate change on New York City,” said U.S. Senator Gillibrand. “I look forward to working closely with the new appointees to reduce pollution and congestion throughout the city and to protect the health of our frontline communities while creating new economic opportunities. I will always serve as a committed partner in congress to ensure New York State has the resources needed to meet its climate goals.”
“The climate crisis is affecting every corner of our city, and I applaud Mayor Adams for taking the crisis head on by appointing New York City’s climate leadership team,” said U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney. “I look forward to working with them on my ongoing initiatives to combat ‘Asthma Alley’ in Western Queens, seawall restoration at Hallets Cove, and passing legislation at the federal level, like my Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act, to ensure that people can live in our great city for generations to come.”
“New York City is full of environmental justice communities, many of which I’m proud to represent in congress,” said U.S. Representative Nydia M. Velázquez. “As we work to make our city more resilient, we must do so for every New Yorker. I commend Mayor Adams for establishing the city’s climate leadership team, and I’m committed to partnering with them from the federal level to advance our shared mission of combating the most existential threat of our time.”
“Consolidation of agencies with a common purpose brings efficiency to state operations. It makes the most sense when bureaucracy is set aside to efficiently address the needs of our communities,” said New York State Senator Luis Sepúlveda. “The announcement by Mayor Adams not only provides this perspective, but also does so with a work plan. As proposed, it would commit to installing 100 megawatts of solar on public buildings, expand resilience projects, and study effects of climate change and unnecessary carbon emissions. The use of renewable energy, as well as resiliency and infrastructure projects are needed throughout our state. I welcome the team appointed by the mayor and hope that their experience in environmental issues will be of benefit to their work and to all New Yorkers”.
“Storm after storm, we’ve seen our communities in southern Brooklyn and across the city devastated by the effects of climate change. Streamlining our response into one agency that is dedicated to responding to and mitigating the often unequal impacts of climate change is crucial. I commend Mayor Adams for creating the Mayor's Office of Climate and Environmental Justice and look forward to working with his new appointments,” Senator Andrew Gounardes.
State Senator James Sanders Jr. said: “I am glad to see that Mayor Adams is hitting the ground running when it comes to important issues like the environment, an area which is among my priorities on the state level as well. I introduced the Green New Deal for New York (S.2878-A), which aims for the state to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and become greenhouse gas emissions neutral by 2030. I look forward to working with Mayor Adams and his newly established team as we move forward to improve the lives of all New Yorkers.”
"We must deliver New Yorkers a future free from the chronic threats of climate change, and Mayor Adams is doing just that by addressing the climate emergency head on. His environmental justice initiatives, which streamline four agencies into one, put New York City ahead of the national curve. I am confident that the team Mayor Adams has assembled will, under his leadership, enact policies to make our city more livable. I congratulate the new members of this leadership team, and especially Chief Climate Officer and DEP Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala, who I know will lead this charge with the urgency it deserves,” said Assemblymember Rodneyese Bichotte Hemelyn.
"In just 31 days in office, the Mayor is already tackling the greatest crises in our city and world. Climate Change remains a real threat. If we do not act now, we will leave future generations with a city where entire neighborhoods are underwater. Mayor Adams is confronting the crisis head on by assembling a team of preeminent experts who will make New York the most resilient and climate-friendly city it can be,” said Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar.
"I commend Mayor Adams for his appointments of the climate leadership team focusing on environmental protection and environmental justice across New York City. As an environmental legislator, I look forward to working together to make the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act a reality in our city and state. These investments in our community today will mean a brighter future tomorrow," said Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright.
“New York City can and will be a leader in the fight against climate change,” said New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “This new leadership team is an important step in prioritizing environmental justice in addition to environmental protection, and creating our city’s first comprehensive environmental justice study, which is essential for a just transition away from fossil fuels. There is a great deal more to do, and my office looks forward to continuing the work with our governing partners to confront the climate crisis, and ensuring that impacted communities are at the center of that work.”
“With the rise in extreme weather and the damage we have seen from recent storms, it is clear that New York City must make tackling climate change a priority,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “Mayor Adams has assembled a team of hardworking, skilled individuals that are committed to efficiently acting to ensure our city leads the way in building towards a sustainable city to live in now and for the future generation of New Yorkers. I look forward to working with them in the fight for climate justice for all.”
“From Superstorm Sandy to Hurricane Ida and beyond, Queens families have far too often felt the catastrophic brunt of climate change in recent years. We simply cannot wait to take bold, comprehensive action to protect our city,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “The Adams administration recognizes the critical threat climate change poses to all our families, and Queens looks forward to working with the mayor and his climate leadership team to swiftly move these vital resiliency projects and others forward.”
“The climate crisis is upon us, and marginalized communities suffer its impacts first and hardest,” said New York City Councilmember and Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers. “To keep New Yorkers safe, we need dedicated leadership to fight for climate policy that is both effective and equitable. I applaud Mayor Adams’ appointments and look forward to working with the new team.”
“I am so delighted that Mayor Adams is appointing three nationally-acclaimed individuals to his environmental team that are simply the best of the best at what they do,” said New York City Councilmember James F. Gennaro, chair, Council Committee on Environmental Protection. “The appointments of Dr. Rohit Aggarwala, Vincent Sapienza, and Kizzy Charles-Guzman are ones that send a powerful message that the Adams administration intends to be a nation-leading changemaker in the areas of environmental protection, environmental justice, and climate sustainability and resiliency. I had the great privilege to work extensively with all three of these dynamic environmental leaders when I was the New York City Council’s Environmental chair, and to be able to work with them again as Mayor Adams restructures and consolidates the various environmental units within city government into a laser-focused organization is indeed a dream come true for me. They will yield tremendous environmental benefits to our city, which will become a beacon to all cities. I applaud Mayor Adams for these outstanding appointments and for his commitment to a cleaner, greener, and more environmentally just city.”
“I would like to praise Mayor Eric Adams for making the first important step towards fulfilling his commitment to climate sustainability, environmental justice, and resiliency,” said New York City Councilmember Ari Kagan, chair, Resiliency and Waterfronts Committee. “New York City is on the frontline of climate change. Southern Brooklyn and other neighborhoods suffered tremendously after Superstorm Sandy and later Storm Ida. I’m looking forward to working closely with the city administration to plan and prepare for future natural disasters.”
“New York City sees the deadly effects of climate change in the flooding of our subways and our homes, and the extremes of heat and cold every summer and winter,” said New York City Councilmember Shekar Krishnan, chair, Committee on Parks and Recreation. “The new Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice will bring the urgency to this problem that it deserves. I look forward to the results of the mayor’s comprehensive study on environmental justice, and to working together to build climate resilience, prioritizing our most vulnerable New Yorkers.”
“The mayor’s appointments demonstrate his commitment to environmental justice across New York City,” said New York City Councilmember Shaun Abreu. “This city needs to fight back against the detrimental impact of climate change and support communities disproportionally impacted by its effects. I am pleased by the mayor’s steps to mitigate emissions and make government more efficient.”
“I applaud Mayor Adams for having the forward vision to streamline the named agencies so that there can be a coalesced plan to make our city more sustainable and resilient,” said New York City Councilmember Joann Ariola. “The areas I represent in District 32 are experiencing more frequent flooding from rising tides and were devastated by Hurricane's Sandy and Ida. As a member of the New York City Council’s Resiliency and Waterways Committee, I look forward to working with the mayor, and his newly appointed team, when implementing the plan to expand citywide resiliency projects and infrastructure. These measures will strengthen our defense against future hurricanes and rising tides, so we will never suffer that kind of devastation again. I would like to congratulate all the appointees, especially Vincent Sapienza, who I’ve had the honor of working with in the past.”
"Climate change is the greatest existential threat of our time. We are now under siege in ways scientists have warned about for years, experiencing cascading climate and weather-related disasters which are no longer features of some dystopian future,” said New York City Councilmember Justin Brannan. “Mayor Eric Adams knows fighting back will not only require big bold policy; it requires sweating the small stuff. This is why the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice will be so vital. New York City has endured and recovered from just about everything. Each time we roar back stronger, but we also must roar back smarter. We must move forward more informed about the risks we face, and better able to prepare and protect for our future. That is true resiliency.”
“There is no more pressing issue than the threat of climate change, and I applaud the mayor for taking early action to appoint members to the city’s climate leadership team,” said New York City Councilmember Eric Dinowitz. “Here, in District 11, we faced immense effects of climate change with massive flooding on the Major Deegan Expressway, in addition to the Bronx having the highest rates of asthma in the city. Resiliency, renewable energy, and parkland protection through a lens of environmental justice is critical. I look forward to working hand in hand with the mayor’s office and my colleagues in the council to create lasting change for our city’s natural environment.”
"I applaud the Adams administration’s commitment to climate and environmental justice,” said New York City Councilmember Amanda Farías. “With the unification of four offices that independently addressed climate issues, our city will now be able to provide an integrated approach to climate leadership — a real opportunity to create and implement transformative climate priorities. Climate justice in communities like mine equals racial justice, health and wellness, and so much more. I look forward to working with the members of the new climate leadership team on making our city not only more sustainable, but a healthier place to live as well."
"The environmental sustainability and resiliency of our city are vital for not just us, but also for generations to come,” said New York City Councilmember Kamillah Hanks. “I applaud the mayor on putting together the new Office of Climate and Environmental Justice with an excellent leadership team that will focus on our city’s environmental protection.".
“Mayor Adams has put together a great team to make our city more resilient and move us into the future, while protecting the health of New Yorkers. I look forward to working with them,” said New York City Councilmember Robert Holden.
“Climate change is an existential threat to our communities, and I look forward to working with the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice to mobilize New York City's resources combat it,” said New York City Councilmember Rita Joseph. “This will be an all-hands-on-deck effort as we look to secure climate justice for the sake of our present and our future. Climate justice cannot wait any longer.”
“In the aftermath of Hurricanes Ida and Sandy, among other natural disasters, we will need a climate leadership team that can help us delve deeper into our city’s existing infrastructure to create cost and time-efficient strategies that will bolster our resilience to flooding and other life-threatening dangers,” said New York City Councilmember Farah N. Louis. “Mayor Eric Adams’ appointments reflect a collaborative team of dedicated and experienced New Yorkers who will help us preserve human life and protect our buildings and coastline, while shaping the future of the city that we love and call home.”
“Mayor Adams’s approach to tackling the existential threat of our time — climate change — is both novel and important,” said New York City Councilmember Darlene Mealy. “I applaud the mayor’s commonsense approach to consolidating various environment protection agencies. Merging the various environmental agencies in one cohesive entity will make it easier to deal with policy and operational issues and make for a more nimble and proactive organization. I also want to congratulate the new and experienced leadership of the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice. Our city’s climate change and environmental program is in good hands.”
“The Adams administration's vision to create the new Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice will create resiliency projects that keep our communities safe from an ever-changing climate, develop greener infrastructure, accelerate environmental initiatives, and combat the issue of environmental justice,” said New York City Councilmember Julie Menin. “We need all-hands-on-deck, and this team has a remarkable track record with the needed expertise to protect New Yorkers. As a member of the City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection, I look forward to making New York resilient to an ever-changing climate.”
“To better equip our city, especially vulnerable communities, against the effects of climate change, including natural disasters, and pandemics like COVID-19, we need to ensure we are working collectively and not in separate lanes,” said New York City Councilmember Francisco Moya. “Streamlining our agencies, in addition to these appointments by Mayor Adams, will advance environmental justice and double down on prioritizing healthier communities and more sustainable neighborhoods.”
“We must aim to create a greener New York City and do our part to promote a true commitment to combatting climate change in one of the world’s largest cities,” said New York City Councilmember Mercedes Narcisse. “Today’s announcement by Mayor Adams is a welcome one, and I am optimistic that these appointments will lead to fundamental advances in New York’s efforts towards increased climate resiliency, waste reduction, and overall environmental justice. I wish the climate leadership team best of luck and look forward to working with them to make our great city a place where many generations of future New Yorkers can enjoy and live healthy.”
“New York City can only address the growing climate crisis by rooting solutions in environmental justice,” said New York City Councilmember Sandy Nurse, chair, Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management. “We look forward to working with the new climate leadership team to bring vital climate and environmental justice initiatives to our communities, including installing solar on our public buildings, building resilience to flooding and extreme heat, and of course transforming our solid waste management system to meet our zero waste goals.”
“Between extreme temperatures and unprecedented weather disasters, it’s never been more clear that the climate crisis is at our city’s front door,” said New York City Councilmember Keith Powers. “Mayor Adams’ leadership appointments and streamlined office will bring a comprehensive and bold approach to tackling the climate crisis here in New York City. I commend Mayor Adams for his commitment to this issue and look forward to working with this team.”
“Climate change is the existential crisis of our time,” said New York City Councilmember Lincoln Restler. “I'm excited to see the administration appoint a stellar climate leadership team — Rit, Vinny, and Kizzy — are fully ready for the challenge. I look forward to partnering with them in the 33rd District to make our neighborhoods a model in the fight against climate change and in the development of a comprehensive waterfront resiliency plan.”
“Climate change poses a significant and undeniable threat to New York City, one that demands a coordinated citywide effort to combat its potential impacts,” said New York City Councilmember Carlina Rivera. “This new climate leadership team, as well as the consolidation of multiple agencies into the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice, will ensure a comprehensive agenda to address the climate crisis across the five boroughs. I look forward to working with Mayor Adams, Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala, Vincent Sapienza, and Kizzy Charles-Guzman to pursue new climate-conscious policies and bring true, lasting resiliency to all New Yorkers.”
“I'm looking forward to working with the city's newly appointed climate leadership team on developing and implementing climate justice solutions,” said New York City Councilmember Althea Stevens. “It is critical that we work together to ensure that our communities are environmentally sound to ensure a healthy future for everybody.”
“I look forward to working with Mayor Adams and his newly appointed climate leadership team to lower climate emissions and increase the resiliency of our city,” said New York City Councilmember Sandra Ung. “The challenges posed by climate change are great, but the price of ignoring it is even greater. When Ida hit, three neighbors who lived in basement apartments were caught in the floods and tragically lost their lives. Increased stormwater results in billions of gallons of CSO being dumped into our waterways, including Flushing Bay. From upgrading our infrastructure to installing renewable energy across the city, New York City can and must rise to the occasion.”
“I represent shorefront constituents who experience the daily cost of climate change, which is why I'm pleased to see the Adams administration prioritizing leadership and goals to combat the climate crisis,” said New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez. “Integrating these organizations can create a more efficient and cohesive strategy to focus on sustainability and resiliency. I look forward to working Mayor Adams, his new leadership team, and the respective agencies on confronting the effects of climate change and delivering environmental justice to the people of the Bronx.”
“Environmental justice is inseparable from racial and economic justice — BIPOC and low-income residents are at the highest risk from environmental consequences,” said New York City Councilmember Julie Won. “Ravenswood and Queensbridge residents breathe in the highest concentrations of air pollutants from local peaker plants than anywhere else in New York City. The flooding and sewage overflow of Hurricane Ida took the lives of immigrant families living in basement apartments and destroyed the heating plant at Woodside Houses. Streamlining government services with a focus on environment justice and investing in renewables is essential to sustainability and equity in our city.”
“We applaud Mayor Adams’ climate picks. The combination of Kizzy Charles-Guzman and Rit Aggarwala's backgrounds and skills refocuses our government on the intersecting issues of climate resilience, public health, community-led planning, and carbon mitigation,” said Amy Chester, managing director, Rebuild by Design. “The new office structure recognizes that a coordinated approach will yield stronger results. Rebuild by Design looks forward to working closely with them and their teams to ensure our city adapts to climate change equitably.”
“This is an exceptionally strong team to lead Mayor Adams’ climate and water initiatives,” said Carter Strickland, mid-Atlantic region and New York State director, Trust for Public Land, and a former DEP Commissioner. “Rit, Kizzy, and Vinny will bring deep experience on a broad range of environmental issues as well as a data-driven, analytical approach for efficient investments. Best of all, they understand that it is critical to work closely with communities, and that programs like eliminating dirty heating oil, adding in green infrastructure and other natural climate solutions, and adopting holistic resilience measures will succeed if they provide equitable public health and other benefits today, while laying the foundation for a more sustainable future tomorrow.”
“The appointment of Rit and Kizzy could not come at a more influential point for decarbonization, environmental justice, and resiliency,” said John Mandyck, CEO, Urban Green Council. “Their caliber and dedication will drive the city’s agenda when we need it most. They’re the right leaders for the work ahead. and Urban Green looks forward to helping them advance world-leading climate policy.”
“Kudos to Mayor Adams for appointing Rit Aggarwala as commissioner of Environmental Protection and chief climate officer, and Kizzy Charles-Guzman as executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice,” said Julie Tighe, president, New York League of Conservation Voters. “It is clear the city must continue to meet the complex environmental and climate challenges facing our city, and a commitment to science-based strategies is paramount to achieve the ambitious goals we have set. Commissioner Aggarwala and Executive Director Charles-Guzman are proven leaders in sustainability, environmental, and urban issues, and will serve critical roles helping build New York smarter and safer and we look forward to working with them.”
“Rit Aggarwala is an outstanding choice to help lead our city's fight against the greatest challenge of our time. If we're going to tackle climate change, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach, and Rit understands how important it is that we all do our part to prevent environmental degradation,” said Kyle Bragg, president, 32BJ SEIU. “Just as our members have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, they're on the frontlines of the climate fight, as critical foot soldiers in the spreading green revolution. This is our moment, and I'm excited and honored to partner with Rit on behalf of our workers, our city, and our future."
“Rit Aggarwala is a visionary and strategic climate leader who will make a strong addition to the new administration,” said Manish Bapna, president and CEO, Natural Resources Defense Council. “During his time serving under Mayor Bloomberg, he helped spark transformative change, including when it came to reducing emissions associated with the city’s buildings — the largest single source of New York’s climate pollution. With sufficient resources and support, I am confident he will build on that legacy in this new role. We look forward to working together to make the city as clean and resilient as possible.”
“Since his first stint in New York government, Rit has been an inspiration to urban environmentalists like me and hundreds of others in city governments around the world,” said Mark Watts, CEO, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. “It is incredibly exciting news that he is joining Mayor Adams’ administration, and I can’t think of anyone better equipped to deliver exacting, science-based decarbonization targets, while also strengthening New York’s resilience and ensuring justice and equity are central to every environmental policy decision. This is a landmark appointment, and I can’t wait to get working with him again.”
“Elevating and centering justice and equity in the city’s climate and environmental work is a vital, bold leadership move that will future-proof climate initiatives and improve the health and well-being of all New Yorkers,” said Miranda Massie, director, New York’s Climate Museum. “We are inspired by this clear prioritization of climate justice so early in Mayor Adams’ administration and by the outstanding team stepping up to bring this essential priority to life.”
“We thank Mayor Eric Adams for boldly committing to implement the recommendations of New York City’s first Environmental Justice for All Report, which will identify and examine the environmental and climate issues facing our city, determine which communities are experiencing the greatest burdens, and make recommendations on how to equitably address the challenges communities are experiencing,” said Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and chair, New York City's Environmental Justice Advisory Board. “And we also thank the mayor for appointing Rohit Aggarwala, Vincent Sapienza, and Kizzy Charles-Guzman — a team that has the experience and expertise needed to take meaningful action on environmental and climate justice. Congratulations to all!”
“New York City has been a global leader in the fight to shift away from polluting fossil fuels and towards a green and just economy, but we cannot protect our air, water, and environment without addressing inequality,” said Ramon Cruz, president, Sierra Club. “Ensuring that the city's climate work is integrated and actually promotes environmental justice, equity, and environmental health, with significant input from impacted communities, is critically necessary to meet this moment. This team is equipped to deliver on that. We look forward to working with Mayor Adams' administration to address emissions from large buildings, improving the road to sustainable transport, and ensuring a transition to clean energy.”
“Rohit Aggarwala is a globally-recognized leader in the effort to reduce carbon emissions and protect the natural environment, and we are thrilled to see him take this important position in Eric Adams’ administration,” said Tom Wright, President and CEO, Regional Plan Association. “He brings the perfect combination of experience and creativity to the task. He established New York City’s first Office of Long Term Planning, helped build the global C40 coalition to address climate change, and chaired RPA’s Committee on the Fourth Regional Plan, where he played an active role in shaping forward-looking recommendations to improve our economic, sustainability, health and equity. Addressing the multi-faceted challenges of the climate crisis in New York City is going to require focus, creativity, and the ability to build bridges between topic areas and people. These are all skills that Rit excels in and will help to build on New York’s essential leadership in this space. Congratulations to Mayor Adams and his team for establishing a top notch climate team with Rit, Kizzy, and Vincent.”
“Regional Plan Association applauds the appointment of Kizzy Charles-Guzman as Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice,” said Kate Slevin, Senior Vice President, Regional Plan Association. Kizzy is an intelligent and dedicated public servant and is known as a thoughtful, staunch advocate for environmental and public health. The City is incredibly lucky to have her leadership and talent in City Hall. We applaud Charles-Guzman for striving to break down silos and integrate climate awareness into every city agency. Congratulations to Mayor Adams and his team for creating such a fabulous climate team – we look forward to working with them to address the climate and environmental challenges ahead.”