A panel and task force that first convened several years ago to identify ways the city can cope with the local impact of climate change, such as fiercer storms and rising sea levels, will now meet on a regular basis and have an expanded focus.
“Climate change is here and our city must be prepared to deal with this and to have a coordinated response,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) told a news conference at City Hall last week, lauding the passage of legislation institutionalizing the task force and panel.
The legislation, passed unanimously by the Council Aug. 22, is being hailed as the first of its kind among federal, state and local governments.
“It’s great for New York City to be the national leader in greenhouse gas reduction. It’s also great for us to be the leader in climate change adaptation,” Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) said.
Gennaro, head of the Council Committee on Environmental Protection, is the author of the legislation.
The New York City Panel on Climate Change, made up of scientific experts on climate change appointed by the mayor and modeled after the International Panel on Climate Change, will now make projections once every three years about the risks rising global temperatures pose to the city.
In addition, the New York City Climate Change Adaptation Task Force will make strategy recommendations for reducing climate change impacts on vulnerable populations, public heath, natural systems and the economy one year after the panel makes its projections.
The task force is made up of government agency representatives and leaders from private sectors including energy, telecommunications and others, and previously only focused on city infrastructure.
Gennaro said one of the most pressing consequences of climate change currently facing the city is intense weather events, such as severe flooding that has overwhelmed many neighborhoods in Queens.
“We’re really getting inundated with five- and 10- and 20-year storms that are happening every year,” he said.
Gennaro said the panel and task force agendas are consistent with city and private projects that are already taking place, such as increasing storm sewer capacity in areas prone to flooding, rezoning areas to make it easier to build environmentally sustainable structures and designing the Willets Point development to be elevated out of floodplains.
The panel and task force were first convened in 2008 by the Bloomberg administration to help fulfill the goals of PlaNYC, Bloomberg’s plan to combat climate change in the city.
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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