The other big climate fight in New York this week

The New York skyline. (Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post)

Thousands of climate activists have descended on New York this week to attend the U.N. General Assembly and Climate Week NYC, where they have implored world leaders to do more to tackle rising global temperatures.

Yet unbeknownst to many attendees, a major fight over climate policy is brewing in the Big Apple, with enormous implications for emissions-cutting efforts by America’s largest city.

New York Mayor Eric Adams (D) this month proposed rules for implementing Local Law 97, a landmark 2019 law that requires the city’s large buildings to curb their carbon emissions. Some environmentalists say the proposed rules are too weak and full of loopholes intended to aid the powerful real estate lobby.

“The mayor is proposing to severely weaken the world’s most important city-level climate and jobs law,” said Pete Sikora, climate and inequality campaigns director with New York Communities for Change.

Other environmental groups support the proposal, as does the original sponsor of Local Law 97. The mayor’s office has also fiercely defended its approach, saying it would spur buildings to slash their carbon footprints without overly penalizing landlords.

The climate stakes are high: New York City’s roughly 1 million buildings generate more than two-thirds of its carbon emissions, since most of the energy used for their heating, cooling and lighting comes from burning fossil fuels. 09-21-23

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