Policy Memo – A Proposal to Further Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in New York City

A Proposal to Further Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in New York City

To: Bill De Blasio, Mayor of New York City

From: Lawrence King, Davidson College Student and New York City Resident

Subject: Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in NYC

Date: April 2016

Climate change is real. No scientist has proven that it isn’t real and affecting the planet every day. The effects of climate change in NYC will be disastrous. Climate change will cause the sea levels to rise, making hurricanes like Superstorm Sandy more common. Heat waves would occur more frequently, NYC’s water supply would be vulnerable, the air quality would be degraded and NY’s lakes could disappear.[1] The list of negatives doesn’t end and that’s why decreasing NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible is so important.

New York, had the lowest per capita CO2 emissions, 8 metric tons per capita, in 2013.[2] New York City has taken enormous, successful strides to reduce its carbon footprint. You, Mayor De Blasio, unveiled a plan to reduce NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.[3] I applaud your actions Mr. Mayor and want to offer you some suggestions to speed up the reduction process and reach the 80% reduction goal before 2050. My hope is that, through the implementation and success of new policy, NYC will be a model to other cities and states across the US that are struggling to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. NYC could be responsible for nation-wide greenhouse gas emission reductions.

NYC can do more to reduce its carbon footprint. If nothing is done to combat climate change the negative outcomes I mentioned before will occur. Each of my suggestions focuses on NYC transportation. I believe that the quickest way to reduce emissions is by reducing the number of cars on the streets that run on fossil fuels and replacing them with public transports that run on clean energy. The best way to do that is to increase the number of public transports, buses, trains and bikes, in NYC and subsequently decrease the price of public transportation. In this policy memo, I propose four options that I believe will decrease emissions in NYC. I have analyzed each strategy using a weighted decision analysis as a way to establish the most effective and feasible choice.

Explanation and Analysis

Do Nothing- Doing nothing means sticking with the plans you already have, Mr. Mayor. While NYC greenhouse gas emissions would steadily decrease with your current plan I believe you would be missing out on an opportunity to speed up the reduction process if you do nothing. My plan in addition to yours can save and make the city money in the long run as well as reduce emissions faster.

Expand the Citi-Bike share program – This option involves expanding the current Citi-Bike program to the other boroughs of NYC beyond Brooklyn and Manhattan. This expansion will encourage New Yorkers to ride bikes instead of driving their cars, especially if their destination is only a short distance away. This will reduce emissions and make all of NYC a more physically active city. The social, economic and environmental benefits are high. I know you already plan to expand the bike-program. However, I’m asking you to be a little more aggressive and expand it to all 5 boroughs.

Raise NYC’s gas prices– This option will discourage drivers from driving their cars for a long period of time. Emissions will decrease and less cars on the street mean fewer accidents. The social and environmental benefits are high.

Increase public transportation – New buses and trains will connect people to places they couldn’t get to before. More buses and trains means less crowding and a more comfortable ride which increases the social benefit. Our buses and trains run on clean energy so having more of them on the street benefits the environment. More people using public transport also means more money in NYC’s economy.

Lower the price of public transportation – By lowering the cost of public transportation, people will ride the buses and trains more. Using public transportation would be cheaper than paying for gas, which discourages people from using their cars. This option has high social, environmental and economic benefits.

Recommendation: Each option on its own is effective. However, using one option alone will not allow NYC to reach the maximum reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the least amount of time. I recommend implementing all of the non-status quo options. By implementing each option drivers will use their cars less. New Yorkers will be encouraged to and look forward to taking public transportation. If there is any distance not covered by public transportation the expanded bike-share program will provide the bikes necessary to make up for it. This policy combined with the policies you’ve already drawn up Mr. Mayor will significantly decrease NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions in a shorter period of time. If these policies are implemented, I have no doubt that NYC will reduce its emissions by 80% before the year 2050. However, if you can’t implement every option, I recommend that you focus on increasing public transportation and lowering the price of public transportation. These two options are the most effective and feasible, as seen in my table below.

 

Criteria Do nothing/maintain status quo Expand the Citi-Bike share program Raise NYC’s gas prices Increase public transportation Lower the price of public transportation Criteria Weight
Effectiveness 2 3 3 3 3 .125
Administrative Feasibility 2 2 1 2 2 .125
Social Cost and Benefits 2 3 2 3 3 .250
Environmental Costs and Benefits 2 3 3 3 3 .250
Economic Costs and Benefits 2 2 2 3 3 .250
Option Score (Weighted) 2.0 2.5 2.0 2.75 2.75  

 

 

Scoring:

1 = low feasibility, costs are greater than benefits

2 = moderate feasibility, costs and benefits are equal

3 = high feasibility, benefits are greater than costs

 

Bibliography

  1. Valentine, Katie. 2014. “New York City Mayor Unveils Plan To Reduce Carbon Emissions By 80 Percent”. Climate. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/09/22/3570284/new-york-city-carbon-reduction-plan/. (March 2016).
  2. S. Energy Information Administration. 2015. “Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions at the State Level, 2000-2013”. Environment. http://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/state/analysis/. (March 2016).
  3. Stein, Perry. 2015. “Bike-share programs are expanding worldwide. Are they successful?”. Transportation. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/bike-share-programs-are-expanding-worldwide-are-they-successful/2015/05/22/59c93cba-ff23-11e4-8b6c-0dcce21e223d_story.html. (March 2016).
  4. The Nature Conservancy. 2006. “Climate Change Impacts in New York”. Climate. http://www.usclimatenetwork.org/resource-database/new_york_factsheet_5.pdf. (March 2016).
  5. Cripps, Karla. 2013. “Bike share boom: 7 cities doing it right”. Travel. http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/05/travel/bike-share-boom-global-report/. (March 2016).
  6. Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. 2016. “The Challenges We Face”. Climate Change. http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc/html/sustainability/climate-change.shtml. (March 2016).
  7. Department of Environmental Conservation. 2016. “Impacts of Climate Change in New York Already happening, but it’s not too late”. Climate Change. http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/94702.html. (March 2016).
  1. PRI’s Environmental News Magazine. 2016. “Degrees of Concern – Climate Change and New York City’s Future”. Living on Earth. http://loe.org/series/series.html?seriesID=39. (March 2016).

 

[1] The Nature Conservancy. 2006. “Climate Change Impacts in New York”. Climate. http://www.usclimatenetwork.org/resource-database/new_york_factsheet_5.pdf. (March 2016).

[2] “U.S. Energy Information Administration. 2015. “Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions at the State Level, 2000-2013”. Environment. http://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/state/analysis/. (March 2016).

[3] Valentine, Katie. 2014. “New York City Mayor Unveils Plan To Reduce Carbon Emissions By 80 Percent”. Climate. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/09/22/3570284/new-york-city-carbon-reduction-plan/. (March 2016).

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