New York City's Pathways to Deep Carbon Reductions, published in December 2013 by the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, discusses the technical potential of 80 by 50: an 80% greenhouse gas emission reduction in New York City by 2050. The report categorizes the reduction of emissions by four highest impact sectors: buildings, energy supply, transportation and solid waste and focuses on utilizing existing and emerging technologies to overcome key technical and financial challenges. Achieving this aggressive goal will contribute to worldwide CO2 reduction and mitigate impacts of climate change.
The report finds that 80 by 50 is possible, but would be exceptionally difficult, as all sectors must mobilize as quickly as possible to meet the requirements. 80 by 50 could promote investments and multiple party action as well as local economic growth and resiliency, as well as provide obvious environmental benefits. Commitment to this course of action will allow NYC to lead by example for cities across the nation and the world.
Though cities contain over half of the world's population and are some of the largest sources of carbon emissions, they play a key role in mitigating climate change and have many opportunities to promote widespread change through policy and funding incentives. The United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change claims that cities need to make drastic changes in order to decrease the expected global temperature increase from between 4-6°C to 2°C. Above the 2º C threshold, "dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system" is unavoidable.
New York City has been actively reducing its greenhouse gas emissions for several years prior to the report's publication. In 2007, NYC committed to 30 by 30 - a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions before 2030 (30 by 30) as part of PlaNYC (the city's long-term sustainability agenda). While the city is on track to meet the 30 by 30 goal, global emissions are still steadily increasing. The United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change set a larger goal of 50 by 50 - decreasing global emissions by 50% by 2050. This will only be possible if large cities like New York that are greenhouse gas emission hot spots commit to making larger carbon reductions, such as 80 by 50.
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