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August 31, 2012
New York City Codifies Climate Change Adaptation
by Robert Kropp
The legislation, which will require the city's Climate Change Adaptation Task Force to update its
assessment of the effects of climate change every three years, is the first ordinance from a US
city to use latest climate science to develop adaptation strategies.
Modeled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC), the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) was launched in August, 2008.
Announcing the formation of both the NPCC and the New York City Climate Change
Adaptation Task Force, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "We face two urgent challenges. First, we have
to shrink our carbon footprint to slow climate change. Second, we have to adapt to the
environmental changes that are already beginning to take place."
Stating in its first report,
issued in 2010, that "New York City already faces a number of climate risks," the Panel warned that
climate-related risks such as heat waves and sea level rise will accelerate in the future.
Last week, the New York City Council moved to ensure that climate change mitigation and
adaptation would remain central to the city's planning, when it approved by a unanimous vote
legislation that will require the NPCC's scientists to update their projections of the potential
impacts of climate every three years. The legislation is believed to be the first enacted by "any
state or local government in the country to create an institutional government mechanism to assess
the latest climate change science, plan for climate change impacts and implement adaptive
strategies," said Council Member James Gennaro.
"New York City is doing what every local,
state, and national government in the world should be doing with respect to climate change: working
assiduously to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions while planning and implementing adaptive
strategies for the impacts of climate change," Gennaro continued.
According to The New York Times, the legislation requires "the adaptation task force to create
an inventory of potential risks to vulnerable populations like the elderly and low-income residents
of industrial areas where flooding also raises the risk of toxic spills. It requires the scientific
advisers to meet at least twice a year to review the latest climate change data and to update their
projections every three years. The task force is then required to submit its recommendations a year
after projections are released."
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