On Earth Day, mayoral candidates talk about sustainability and New York
With less than nine weeks to go before the New York mayor’s primary, candidates are enthusiastically sharing what they would do for their constituents if elected. Earth Day was no exception.
Thursday the New York League of Conservation Voters, a state-wide non-profit organization that fights for water and air quality, renewable energy and open space through political action, broadcast interviews conducted with five of the top eight Democratic candidates, based on recent polls. In honor of Earth Day, the contestants – Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Ray McGuire and Scott Stringer – were asked about their sustainability plans.
Among the issues discussed were clean transport, the expansion of green spaces, measures to achieve zero waste, environmental justice, lead poisoning and the strengthening of green jobs.
Here’s what the candidates had to say on each topic:
The contenders intend to tackle climate change by increasing the use of renewable energy through solar panels, focusing on infrastructure and establishing a new partnership with the rest of the country and the world for, yet another times, be a leader in climate change.
“We’re going to build a solar panel on every roof and an electric battery in every basement,” Stringer said.
Garcia added that he wanted to make sure there is a new green deal for the New York City Housing Authority, in particular, so that residents have funding to invest in geothermal and heat pumps, allowing them to have heating, hot water and air conditioning. their units.
And McGuire, who grew up opposite a paper mill that reportedly emits strong fumes, is committed to building climate resilience by focusing, for the most part, on air quality in New York City.
Many pioneers believe that the overhaul of the city’s urban landscape and the promotion of clean transport rely heavily on the electrification of vehicles. But to do this, Donovan and McGuire pointed out, the city needs more electric charging stations. If elected, Donovan plans to electrify all public vehicles first, starting with the MTA and school buses.
“And guess what?” He asked. “They can also be used in our next crisis, whether it’s the next hurricane or some other climate disaster. They can be our community hubs. “
Garcia, endorsed the idea of using electric city buses, but also expressed the importance of investing in infrastructure to achieve these goals.
For Adams and Stringer, two of the top four in the race, improving the use of spaces occupied by parking spaces, as well as streets, is a top priority.
“Think about this: 80% of New York City is made up of sidewalks and streets,” Stringer said. “Yet cars control 70% of these streets. If you take out a parking space, you can park 20 bikes, and if you take out three cars, suddenly you’re dining al fresco. “
Stringer also plans to add more pedestrian streets and implement safer bus and bike lanes – safe enough for an eight-year-old, to be exact.
“If we think so, we will also build safe for eight year olds, and that will protect people,” he added.
When it comes to investing in green spaces, all of the nominees spoke of the important connectivity between city parks and the physical and mental health of New Yorkers – a realization that many have come to realize over the years. the pandemic.
“These were our living rooms, in a way they had never been before,” Garcia said, citing the countless hours spent by New Yorkers. parks over the past year. Garcia, ideally, would add 10 new parks to communities currently lacking them, while Stringer has suggested building 200 playgrounds over the next five years. And Donovan wants to change the fact that New York City has the least green space per person of any city in the United States.
Each candidate has their own plan to achieve zero waste, but all five seem to agree that this goal has two conditions: composting and recycling. Among the ideas: a compost bin at the door of each resident and inside each school building.
Adams believes the key is to start with schools, allowing children to learn at an early age that composting is part of the process of eliminating waste and protecting the environment. And if it were up to Donovan, New York would be the nation’s leader in recycling. For the first time in the city’s history, it would create a serious construction waste recycling program, he said.
For many applicants, the first step in ensuring that communities struggling with adverse environmental effects will not be disproportionately overburdened by them is to recognize that these communities exist.
“The ‘good, just put it in the city’ mentality has to end,” Stringer said.
Donovan would also reorient the way the city is planned, with something he calls 15-minute neighborhoods, where people have a great school for their kids, reliable jobs, fast transportation every 15 minutes from their doorstep. , while Garcia plans to transform the asphalt school. meters in green areas.
In New York State, children are obligatory be tested for lead poisoning at one and two years. But that doesn’t mean they can’t get it. All the candidates agreed that lead poisoning clusters should be identified and spot checks instituted.
“It doesn’t make sense to me that you would identify a child driving into a building, but then you wouldn’t go in and test every child in the building,” Stringer said.
Among the ideas put forward by the candidates for strengthening green jobs: investing in green infrastructure, making New York an agrarian society and educating children, in the hope of later benefiting from their civic engagement.
As mayor, Donovan said he would put young New Yorkers to work by creating apprenticeship programs for them. Likewise, McGuire would focus on creating more green jobs and implementing workforce training, for those who are unemployed.
Adams took the idea a step further by suggesting that he would like to make New York a farming city. “By growing our own food, we are dealing with the food apartheid of food deserts,” he said. “We are also taking the trucks off the road. And we take care of the health aspects of a healthier diet. “