By MIKE LEE
The union came out in force at City Hall Park to demand action on climate change and to support proposed legislation before the City Council.
The legislation, Intro 1253, calls for direct proactive measures to address this vital issue and urges the creation of thousands of green jobs throughout the city.
At the rally, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido addressed the city pension issue. As a trustee overseeing the pension, Garrido has led efforts to divest from fossil fuel investments and shift money to green energy.
Garrido told the crowd that city pension fund trustees are working to double the fund’s investments in climate change solutions to $4 billion. He said, “We are fighting for this because it is right thing to do. We cannot expect anybody else to do this for us. New York City should be the leader in taking a stand for climate justice.”
The action was part of a day of action by DC 37 and a coalition of labor unions, environmental activists and community groups, including the Alliance for a Greater New York, WE ACT, and the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.
The April 9 events included intensive lobbying of Council members, and began with a press briefing earlier that morning.
Intro 1253 commits the city to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and establish an Office of Building Energy Performance that would oversee greenhouse gas emissions limits for existing buildings. The bill also requires expanding existing requirements to retrofit certain buildings over 25,000 square feet.
Passage of this landmark bill is an imperative to beat back the threat of climate change and create new good paying, clean green jobs for New Yorkers. If passed, New York City would lead with a giant step forward towards supporting the proposed Green New Deal.
Intro 1253 if enacted would cut greenhouse gas emissions by seven percent, including a 40 percent reduction in emissions from the city’s buildings.
Leading the effort are several key City Council members, including Costa Constantinides, of Queens, chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee, and Council Speaker Corey Johnson. Both attended the noontime rally and were joined by Council members Brad Lander and Mark Levine.
“We have a moment to pass this legislation to make a real impact on climate change,” said Constantinides. “The action we take will be the largest emissions reduction policy not just by New York City, but by any city—and we need to lead.”
“This is a serious occasion because we on the precipice of environmental catastrophe,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “The time to act is now.”
On Saturday, April 13, the union is hosting an Earth Day Expo at union headquarters to discuss and debate the vital climate issues that face us. Scientists, elected officials, environmental organizations, and activists young and old are coming together to share knowledge and chart a course of advocacy.