It’s a new year and New York City has a new mayor. Bill de Blasio was sworn in yesterday as the 109th mayor of NYC, and described the metropolis he inherited as a “tale of two cities” in his inauguration speech. “Big dreams are not a luxury reserved for a privileged few, but the animating force behind every community, in every borough,” he said, once again referencing the battle against inequality that was at the core of his campaign. But what does that mean for the city’s green initiatives like alternative energy, recycling and composting? From what we’ve seen so far, de Blasio has acknowledged climate change, public health and even animal cruelty as issues that all New Yorkers, not just the upper class, should care about in addition to education, safety and jobs.

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There has definitely been some concern amongst green-minded New Yorkers about whether de Blasio will be able to continue Michael Bloomberg’s ambitious environmental agenda. While sustainability wasn’t at the forefront of de Blasio’s mayoral campaign, a little digging revealed that the new mayor does have intentions to keep the city on track with its PlaNYC goal of reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. De Blasio outlines some of those plans in his Framework for a Sustainable City. The green plan includes implementing infrastructure for more renewable energy including wind, geothermal, hydropower and biofuels, and aligns with one of de Blasio’s other major goals – job creation – through the passing of the New York Solar Jobs Act.

The de Blasio administration is also poised to demonstrate that environmental stewardship is not just for the city’s rich. There will be many opportunities for the new mayor to show how green initiatives can save money, better employment numbers and improve public health for everyone. One example is his support of the East 91st street waste-transfer station, which would help reduce the number of garbage trucks that need to drive all the way to sanitation stations in the outer boroughs. The station is controversial because it is located in the affluent Upper East Side neighborhood, but supporters cite the unfairness that similar facilities are typically assigned to poorer areas – a disparity that exemplifies the “tale of two cities” de Blasio mentioned in his inaugural speech.

Only time will tell whether or not the new mayor will be able to uphold Bloomberg’s commitment towards the environment, but it looks like he’s off to a decent start. Hopefully, he’ll be able to take NYC’s green initiatives a step even further by working to make them more accessible to all of New York City’s citizens.

+ Bill de Blasio

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