Global climate change is the challenge of our generation. The stakes are high-for New Yorkers and for the world. In the coming years, New York City will face rising sea levels, increased temperatures and heat waves, and an increasing frequency of the most intense storms. These risks are not remote or distant. They are here today. The damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 provided vivid evidence of these risks. Almost two years later, we are still recovering. Globally, climate change is having a devastating impact on people's lives as rising sea levels flood coastlines, droughts disrupt livelihoods, and storms, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events threaten security and economic development.
For this reason, New York City is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent by 2050-the level the United Nations projects is needed to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change-and will chart a long-term path for a total transition away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.
In New York City, our buildings are responsible for the overwhelming share of our GHG emissions. The energy we use in our homes, schools, workplaces, stores, and public facilities accounts for nearly three-quarters of our contribution to climate change. We can upgrade our buildings to be more energy efficient and power our buildings with renewable sources of energy, reducing our GHG emissions while making our homes more affordable and creating new jobs and businesses.
Realizing this vision will require engaged communities, energized leadership, and creative solutions. New Yorkers will rise to the challenge. New York City leads the world in real estate development, architecture and engineering firms, skilled labor unions, financial institutions, and research universities. We are uniquely poised to develop the solutions needed to transform our city, and will share these solutions with the world.
We have the power to begin transforming our buildings for a low-carbon future and the complete transition away from fossil fuels-and we will begin today.