April 17, 2023
Video available at: https://youtu.be/wQLTqu311Oo
New Inventory Shows That Buildings, Transportation, and Food Represent New York City’s Top Three Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
City Also Launches Corporate Challenge to Reduce Private Sector Food Emissions by 25 Percent
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Chief Climate Officer and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala today released the city's first integrated greenhouse gas inventory, which incorporates emissions from the production and consumption of food. Those emissions represent 20 percent of New York City's overall emissions — the third largest source, behind buildings (35 percent) and transportation (21 percent). The inventory — developed by the Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice (MOCEJ) — includes emissions involved in the production of goods and services New Yorkers consume, whether or not that production occurs in New York City. In response to the new inventory, Mayor Adams and Mayor’s Office of Food Policy (MOFP) Executive Director Kate MacKenzie also announced that the city will reduce absolute carbon emissions from food purchases across its city agencies by 33 percent by 2030.
“New York City is leading the world when it comes to combating climate change, because we’re using every option on the menu in our fight — and that includes changing our menus, too,” said Mayor Adams. “This new emissions report shows us that plant-powered food isn’t just good for our physical and mental health, but good for the planet as well. We’ve already made great strides in reducing our food emissions by leading with plant-based meals in our public hospitals and introducing Plant-Powered Fridays in our public schools. Now, we know we need to go further. That’s why today, we’re committing to reducing the city’s food-based emissions at agencies by 33 percent by 2030 and challenging our private sector partners to join us by cutting their food emissions by 25 percent in the same time period. The way we eat impacts everything, and now we’re going to do more to impact everything for the better.”
“NYC Health + Hospitals is on track to serve more than three-quarters of a million plant-based meals over this calendar year. This offers alignment with the city’s strategy around Lifestyle Medicine, but also has significant implications for planetary health as well, with food being the third largest contributor to climate emissions across the city,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Today’s announcement demonstrates the thoughtful and integrated approach the city is taking to bring healthy food to every person that might eat a meal as a patient in one of our public hospitals and how we are working to preserve and defend the environment for every New Yorker.”
“I am delighted that C40 and American Express have given us a new lens into greenhouse gas emissions,” said Chief Climate Officer and DEP Commissioner Aggarwala. “We have long known about buildings and transportation's role in emissions, and this integrated inventory gives us clearer knowledge of food's role, and the full scope of actions the government can take.”
“The relationship between what we eat and its effect on climate change and the environment is known,” said MOCEJ Executive Director Kizzy Charles-Guzman. “With transparency and bold policy to reduce food-related emissions, New York is helping its residents, and the world, understand the power that behavior change can have in achieving our climate goals.”
“In working to combat the climate crisis we’ve faced, for too long, we’ve looked only to the cars we drive and the buildings in which we live, with too little attention paid to what’s right in front of us: The food on our plates,” said MOFP Executive Director MacKenzie. “Thank you, Mayor Adams, for your leadership on these initiatives that ask of ourselves, as city agencies, accountability in carbon emission reductions, through the food we purchase, and encourages corporate cooperation to take on this challenge as well, so we can work together to effect meaningful change by 2030.”
New York City has measured citywide emissions since 2005, but this is the first time the city has included emissions from household consumption. These emissions were modeled by EcoDataLab as part of an ongoing project coordinated by C40 that is working with cities to identify urban consumption indicators for data-driven climate action and measurement. The new inventory shows that 20 percent of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions come from household food consumption — primarily from meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. This means New Yorkers can significantly reduce the city’s emissions by eating more low-carbon food, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. The integrated inventory can be found on the MOCEJ website.
This new emissions inventory furthers New York City’s continued commitment to measuring its emissions and innovating to reduce its contribution to climate change, including through the food it buys. In particular, New York City’s public hospitals and schools are leading the way. By serving plant-based meals as the default option and enhancing patients’ food experience, NYC Health + Hospitals is on track to serve 850,000 plant-based meals this year — reducing its food-based carbon emissions by 36 percent as of February 2023 while reducing the public health burden of diet-related disease. The city also introduced Plant-Powered Fridays in its public schools last year, emphasizing the central role that healthy, low-carbon options must have on individuals’ plates and inspiring future generations to lead the charge in creating a more just and sustainable food system.
In addition to committing to reducing the city’s carbon emissions from food purchases from city agencies by 33 percent by 2030, Mayor Adams today launched the Plant-Powered Carbon Challenge, urging private, institutional, and nonprofit sector leaders to reduce their food-based emissions by 25 percent by 2030. MOFP — in partnership with the companies Coolfood and Greener by Default — will support participants in measuring and reducing the carbon footprint of their existing procurement practices. These commitments will be formalized in Mayor Adams’ strategic climate plan to be released later in April. Last year, Mayor Adams updated the city’s Food Standards, which translate the latest research on health and nutrition into guidelines for food served by the city — aligning public health and climate goals. The city was recognized by signatories to the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact for its work incorporating “Good Food Purchasing” program values in its food procurement. The Good Food Purchasing program encourages large institutions to use their buying power to support five core values: local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare, and nutrition. The city is integrating these values into agency food spending, which will ensure that city funds spent on food support individual, community, and planetary health.
New York City is a national and global leader in climate initiatives related to food and is poised to serve as a model for other cities. In 2022, Mayor Adams announced that the city had signed onto the “C40 Good Food Cities Declaration” — joining London and 13 other cities around the world delivering on the same pledge — to increase access to plant-forward and nutritious food for city residents and halve their city’s respective food waste. C40 is a network of nearly 100 mayors from the world’s leading cities working to deliver urgent, local action to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone can thrive.
“We understand the significant impact our food choices have on both our communities and the environment, and we are we pleased to see this administration taking decisive action to reduce food-based emissions across city agencies,” said New York City Department of Social Services Acting Commissioner Molly Wasow Park. “This announcement exemplifies the city’s commitment to comprehensively combatting climate change and building a brighter, healthier, and more sustainable future for all New Yorkers.”
“With the help of the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy, ACS is seeking more environmentally-sustainable purchasing specifications that help reduce our carbon footprint,” said New York City Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner Jess Dannhauser. “I applaud Mayor Adams for prioritizing this critical issue and committing to reducing food-based emissions in New York City.”
“The new consumption inventory, which shows us how our food choices impact climate change, is a wonderful complement to the city’s inventory of greenhouse gas emissions that are generated from our government operations, buildings, and fleet,” said New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Dawn M. Pinnock. “The more we know, the better prepared we all are to make a difference.”
“In Fiscal Year 2023, the New York City Department of Aging served nearly 3 million nutritious meals to older New Yorkers, and under Mayor Eric Adams we continue to make changes to these programs to reduce the negative environmental impact they have” said New York City Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. “We are beginning a composting program with the New York City Department of Sanitation in 10 older adult centers in Queens, which will expand to the more than 300 centers we have across the city. To further reduce waste, we also eliminated a requirement to wrap individual fresh fruits in plastic and are working on eliminating other single use plastics. As the second highest food provider in the city, we are pleased to support the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy to create a more sustainable environment, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in government to further reduce the city’s carbon footprint.”
“I’m proud to be joining Mayor Adams, the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy, and our agency counterparts throughout New York City to take essential steps towards reducing carbon emissions for the betterment of our community, and of communities around the world,” said New York City Department of Education Chancellor David C. Banks. “New York City public schools will continue to prioritize sustainability in all aspects, including our kitchens and lunchrooms, to help our city meet this critical commitment.”
“Our planet is already seeing the devastating effects of climate change and it’s not just the environment taking a toll — human health will also suffer. NYC Health + Hospitals, through our partnership with Sodexo, is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by offering inpatients plant-based meals and implementing food waste and diversion programs,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “Tackling the climate crisis is a global effort and we are hopeful other health care systems will join us in saving our beautiful planet.”
“Ensuring New Yorkers eat nutritious foods and have access to them is key to their overall health, but it should not come at the cost of harming our environment,” said New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Reducing consumption-based emissions and encouraging people to adopt more plant-based foods is a win-win. This will help improve our air quality and help prevent the several chronic diseases that affect so many New Yorkers unnecessarily.”
“The nutritional services division of the New York City Department of Correction welcomes the opportunity of participating in the carbon reduction initiative set forth by Mayor Adams and the Mayor's Office of Food Policy,” said New York City Department of Corrections Senior Executive Director of Nutritional Services Glenn O'Connor.
“Taking actionable steps towards the sustainability of our schools, such as our now monthly plastic free day in cafeterias, is and will continue to be a priority for New York City public schools and the Office of Food and Nutrition Services,” said Chris Tricarico, senior executive director, New York City Department of Education’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services. “Many of our young people depend on the delicious and nutritious meals they receive in school each day, and we’re committed to making sure these meals are not only healthy, but sourced and prepared with the future of our city and our students in mind.”
“Fighting the climate crisis requires a comprehensive, all-of-the-above approach to reducing carbon emissions in our city,” said U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler. “I'm proud to support today's commitment which will reduce food-based carbon emissions by 33 percent while also engaging the private sector to do their part. Together, these initiatives will bring New York closer to fulfilling the carbon-neutrality goals of the Paris Agreement.”
“Climate change has reached a critical tipping point that affects each of us, particularly communities of color which are more susceptible to its impact,” said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat. “The Inventory of New York City Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions annual report allows New York City to identify our largest emissions areas and contributing factors, and I commend Mayor Adams and Commissioner Aggarwala for their ongoing response to reaffirm our commitment to decreasing our greenhouse emissions footprint and its overall impact to residents and our future. This reduction in food-based emissions is a critical first step in our comprehensive approach in creating the green equitable future that all New Yorkers deserve.”
“Today, Mayor Adams has taken a critical step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our city’s carbon footprint,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “The city’s first ever Greenhouse Gas Inventory consumption index gives us unprecedented insight into how to make our goods and services friendly to the environment. A 33% reduction in food emissions by city agencies and a 25% reduction by the private sector will clamp down on the 10.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide our city emits to produce food for its people. Tackling these emissions is a major step forward in achieving the carbon-free future essential for our planet’s survival.”
“Creating healthy, sustainable communities is a top priority for me,” said New York State Assemblymember Brian A. Cunningham. “Environmental racism and pollution disproportionally harm our under-resourced urban areas and minority populations, reducing life expectancy and causing more health problems. I’m proud to support the mayor's efforts to reduce emissions from food sources and implement a plant-based solution that makes our city healthier and more sustainable.”
“I believe that tackling climate change is not just a responsibility, but a moral obligation,” said New York City Councilmember Rita Joseph. “By committing to reduce our city's food-based emissions, we are taking a step towards a more sustainable and equitable future for all.”
“Every day, New Yorkers contribute to the growth rate of greenhouse emissions, particularly through transportation, food consumption and waste, and other goods, such as takeout containers,” said New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez. “This report is eye-opening, and I look forward to seeing Mayor Adams and DEP‘s program to reduce greenhouse emissions throughout the city. It’s time we prioritize our health more than ever.”
“Identifying the three main sources of greenhouse gas emissions is the first step to reduce carbon emissions across city agencies,” said New York City Councilmember Julie Menin. “By amending our existing procurement practices for food purchases, we can make an impactful reduction in the City’s food-based emissions. Thank you Mayor Eric Adams for prioritizing environmental initiatives as it is critical to mitigate the ongoing effects of climate change.”
“A full picture of how our city generates emissions should guide strategic climate action,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander. “The new, integrated consumption-based greenhouse gas inventory will provide much-needed insight into the measures we can take to lower our emissions output from goods and services”.
“Sodexo is committed to leading the movement toward plant-based dining and to supporting the mayor and the city of New York in its carbon reduction goals. Through our partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals we’ve already seen a 36% reduction in carbon emissions over the last year with our roll-out of the plant-based patient menu,” said Matt Marchbanks, senior vice president of operations, Sodexo. “We’re focused on improving the availability of plant-based dishes and creating delicious new recipes that consumers will be excited to try."
“The world needs New York City to continue leading the way in confronting our climate crisis and ending our reliance on fossil fuels. And until now, less was known about the magnitude of the city’s consumption-based emissions or the role that certain choices by New Yorkers have in our global carbon impact,” said Daniel Zarrilli, former chief climate policy advisor, City of New York. “Today’s announcement recognizing food as the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the city, after buildings and transportation, and setting targets to reduce those emissions is the right approach alongside bold actions taken by the City in other sectors. Congratulations to Mayor Adams, MOFP Executive Director MacKenzie, and Chief Climate Officer Aggarwala for this important step forward in New York City’s climate leadership.”
“New York is making it easier for people to eat food that is good for them and the planet — leading by example and engaging businesses and community leaders to use their power of procurement to reduce food-related emissions,” said Mark Watts, executive director, C40 Cities. That's a model for cities and stakeholders around the world working to improve public health and rapidly reduce emissions.”
“Food-based solutions have been left out of the climate change equation for far too long, so it's wonderful that New York City is stepping up to reduce the carbon cost of their food purchasing,” said Jennifer Molidor, senior food campaigner, Center for Biological Diversity. “We can’t meet climate goals without addressing the food system beyond the farm. New York City’s actions show what’s possible and other cities should take stock of their own food purchasing footprint.”
“We commend Mayor Adams and the City of New York’s visionary leadership in the field of sustainable food systems,” said Laura Edwards-Orr, director of institutional impact, Center for Good Food Purchasing. “Today's commitment to climate friendly meals builds on and reinforces Executive Order 8’s codification of the Good Food Purchasing Program in New York City — connecting city food spend to the core values of local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare, and community health and nutrition.”
“Mayor Adams’ commitment to reducing food-based emissions by 33% by 2030 presents an important opportunity to use values-based procurement practices and innovative food service planning to reduce the city's carbon footprint, while also promoting local agriculture, healthier food choices, and social equity,” said Craig Willingham, managing director, City University of New York Urban Food Policy Institute.
“We applaud Mayor Adams, Commissioner Aggarwala, and their teams for this greenhouse gas inventory of activities occurring in the city. This data is fundamental for sound policy making,” said Peter Lehner, managing attorney for sustainable food and farming, Earthjustice. “The inventory’s finding that the food system is one of the largest sources of climate change emissions is consistent with a large body of scientific evidence that also shows that industrial meat production in particular has an outsized climate change impact given that cows, animal manure, and livestock feed production are the country’s largest sources of powerful greenhouse gases.”
“Cities must take bold actions against climate change, and Mayor Adams' unveiling of New York’s first consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions index and his commitment to reducing food-based emissions across 33 agencies and launching the Plant-Powered Carbon Challenge is a bold and ambitious step towards a thriving future,” said Dr. Gunhild Stordalen, founder and executive chair, EAT. “His dedication to promoting plant-forward diets demonstrates his concern not only for New Yorkers, but for the planet and future generations. I applaud Mayor Adams and encourage other leaders to follow his example towards a healthier and brighter tomorrow for all.”
“The Good Food Institute applauds the Mayor's Office for taking a significant step forward in securing habitable and resilient futures for all,” said Amy Huang, university innovation manager, Good Food Institute. “By recognizing food systems emissions as a major contributor to anthropogenic climate change, New York City has laid the groundwork for lightening its environmental footprint through systemic change. Plant-based foods and other alternative proteins are a key climate mitigation solution that should be adopted by our public and private sector leaders. We hope other cities follow suit.”
“Great Performances applauds Mayor Adams for his 360-degree vision around the many issues surrounding a sustainable food climate for the city,” said Liz Neumark, CEO and founder, Great Performances. “From nourishing our neighbors to protecting our environment to ensuring the health of the food industry which both feeds and employs countless of New Yorkers, each step matters.”
“A growing number of institutions are serving plant-based meals by default as an easy, cost effective, and inclusive strategy to meet their carbon reduction goals,” said Katie Cantrell, co-Founder and CEO, Greener by Default. “We applaud New York City for leading the way in cutting Scope 3 emissions from food, and look forward to supporting institutions participating in the mayor’s groundbreaking initiative.”
“Low-income black and brown youth, like those we serve at Harlem Grown, are disproportionally impacted by carbon emissions resulting in heightened rates of adverse pediatric health outcomes such as asthma and neurodevelopment disorders,” said Tony Hillery, founder and CEO, Harlem Grown. “As Harlem Grown works to empower youth to lead healthy lives, city policy with an emphasis on reducing carbon emissions is crucial to their futures.”
“The results of the new consumption index offer us critical, local data on what we already know: food is a major contributor toward greenhouse gas emissions and a more sustainable food system is necessary if we are going to solve our climate crisis,” said Emily Broad Leib, faculty director, Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic. “We commend Mayor Adams and city officials for setting an ambitious goal to reduce New York City’s food-based emissions. With this commitment, government support, and ability to measure progress through the index, New York City has the tools it needs to advance policy in support of its goals and serve as a model for other major cities, localities, or regions looking to address their greenhouse gas emissions.”
“The City of New York and the Adams administration are clearly dedicated to addressing greenhouse gas emissions in an impactful way with time-sensitive goals,” said Annette Nielsen, executive director, Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center. “The focus on tracking, collecting, and analyzing data is an important part of the equation in developing an accurate consumption index. The indicator for food being the third largest contributor to emissions here also provides an opportunity to examine and strengthen our regional food system so that city procurement initiatives prioritize local farmers and producers. When there’s an emphasis on food that’s good for people, it’s also good for the environment. The Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center supports this administration’s strategy for bringing together private, institutional, and nonprofit sector leaders to identify and implement smart solutions for this critical effort.”
“Mayor Adams’ administration is to be commended for their outstanding leadership in taking this important step to address climate change,” said Dr. Jennifer Cadenhead, PhD, RDN, executive director, Laurie M.Tisch Center for Food, Education, and Policy Teachers College, Columbia University. “Their dedication and hard work will bring about a noteworthy reduction in the carbon footprint of New York City’s food economy, marking a significant milestone in our collective efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change on our environment. It is vital that we all work together to mitigate the impact of food practices on the environment with every available tool. We at the Tisch Center are excited to see it included in nutrition education and school food practices.”
“We welcome the Adams administration’s new greenhouse gas inventory, which identifies food as the city’s third largest emissions source,” said Mark A. Izeman, New York regional senior strategist, Natural Resources Defense Council. “The food system locally and globally is an often-overlooked contributor to climate change pollution — from production on farms to food waste sent to landfills. Purchasing more climate friendly foods is a critical piece of shrinking the city’s carbon footprint. And we look forward to working with Mayor Adams and his team to be a national leader on advancing policies that cut emissions from all three top categories of pollution.”
“Mitigating our collective climate impact must begin by measuring it,” said Cecil Scheib, chief sustainability officer, New York University (NYU). “New York City is leading this effort on both fronts by identifying food-based emissions as a serious contributor to climate change, as well as committing to reduce them. As a Coolfood Pledge member, NYU is excited to support the mayor and his efforts to address New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
“We know that a plant-based diet significantly reduces an individual's food-related carbon footprint,” said Kevin Ryan, vice chair, Partnership for New York City. “Businesses have an opportunity to make a meaningful impact on curbing carbon emissions by championing plant-based eating in workplaces. It’s more than a lifestyle choice, it’s an important investment in the health of our planet and our shared future, and we enthusiastically support Mayor Adams and the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy in their efforts to create a more sustainable way forward for New York.”
“Developing a comprehensive understanding of our current climate impacts is a key step in finding solutions that are holistic and just,” said Karl Palmquist, chair, Sierra Club New York City Group. “As the agricultural sector is one of the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, we applaud Mayor Adams’ dedication to deploying food policy in the fight against climate change. Ensuring that the city reduces carbon emissions associated with food while also promoting practices that prioritize soil and ecosystem health are essential for addressing the root causes of our climate emergency.”
“New York City’s 33 percent target positions the city as a leader in the growing movement to reduce food-related emissions, and Coolfood looks forward to continuing to support the city to use data and consumer behavior change strategies to reach its ambitious climate targets,” said Edwina Hughes, head of Coolfood, World Resources Institute.