1.5°C: Aligning New York City with the Paris Climate Agreement

On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement (Paris Agreement), abdicating American leadership on climate change, one of the most significant challenges facing humanity. The next day, Mayor de Blasio signed Executive Order 26, committing the most populous city in the United States to the principles of the Paris Agreement and to developing a pathway to advance the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Hundreds of other U.S. cities and institutions followed suit by reiterating their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions - sending a profound signal to the world that the majority of Americans will not retreat from this existential fight.

The success of the Paris Agreement hinges - now more than ever - on the involvement of cities like New York to put their resources, innovation, and leadership into play. To prevent the worst impacts of climate change, cities across the planet must dramatically reduce their GHG emissions to limit the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, and reach even further to support the collective effort to limit temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In 2014, the City of New York (the City) committed to reducing its GHG emissions 80 percent by 2050, compared to 2005 levels (80 x 50). The City's 2016 report, New York City's Roadmap to 80 x 50, used the best available science and state-of the-art analysis to identify strategies in the buildings, energy, waste, and transportation sectors that would achieve 80 x 50 based on current technology.

NYC's progress toward 80 x 50 continues: our air is cleaner, our energy is greener, and we are sending less waste to landfills. Meeting the global carbon budget to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius requires that the City implement a priority subset of its 80 x 50 strategies by 2020 in order to accelerate GHG reductions. This plan clearly lays out the pace, scale, and impact of actions across the built environment that are necessary to bring NYC's actions in line with the Paris Agreement's 1.5 degree Celsius outcome - and commits the City to lead in the development of a global protocol for carbon neutrality.

Equity and climate change are inexorably linked. While climate change affects everyone, its impacts are not equally shared. Simply put, the poorest and most vulnerable are the hardest hit. Therefore, the work to reduce GHG emissions must address economic and social inequities. This plan assesses near-term actions for their impacts and benefits, such as improved local air quality, preservation of housing affordability, and increased access to transportation and resources. The City will continue to incorporate equity in its climate policies and programs to achieve more environmentally and economically just outcomes for all New Yorkers.

Achieving the City's climate objectives is no easy task and will require active participation by New Yorkers to transform the buildings we live in, the places we work, the ways we travel, and the goods we consume. The City must prioritize resources, policies, and programs that facilitate this transition.

NYC and the world, must recognize the urgency of this challenge and take bold action to protect the human rights imperatives of the Paris Agreement. This is the only way forward.