THE BLOG
12/23/2014 12:57 pm ET Updated Feb 22, 2015

10 Ideas for Reducing Emissions, Protecting Our Communities, and Creating Good Jobs for New Yorkers

While Broadway, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and ice skating at Rockefeller Center may get all the attention, New York's Mayor de Blasio is taking steps to make sure New York City gets a reputation for action on conservation and sustainability. With the introduction of his goal to reduce emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050, the mayor has set the highest bar yet for a large city on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There are innumerable ways to meet this target--the best is one that benefits as many people as possible.

A new report called "Climate Works for All: A Platform for Reducing Emissions, Protecting Our Communities, and Creating Good Jobs for New Yorkers", puts the best thinking on climate policy and job creation from worker organizations, environmental justice advocates, environmentalists, and other stakeholders to work. It's a strategy by ALIGN, along with the National AFL-CIO, the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, the BlueGreen Alliance, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, and a large number of endorsers and supporters--to solve our jobs crisis, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Together, the 10 proposals introduced in the report have the potential to create 40,000 good jobs per year.

Hurricane Sandy underscored the city's vulnerability to extreme weather. Together, the fact that energy infrastructure lies squarely in some of the most flood-prone areas, within close reach of the city's 520 miles of coastline compiles the problem. Hurricane Sandy undermined the city's strength in a matter of hours. Let's not let that happen again.

Proposed fixes such as mandating energy efficiency retrofits in the city's largest buildings, replacing damaged and inefficient boilers with more efficient systems and more can strengthen the economy and create good, family-sustaining jobs.

Investing in our physical and social infrastructure requires us to be proactive and smart. We need to protect our subways and coastline from flooding and storm surges. We need to make our homes, hospitals and schools able to withstand severe weather, so that flooding like we experienced during Superstorm Sandy does not leave families in danger, especially lower-income communities and communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by climate change.

We know what New York City looks like if we continue to delay investments. The solutions proposed in the "Climate Works for All" report illustrate what's possible when we make the right investments in the priorities that will create a brighter economic future and more sustainable economy.

Today we have an unprecedented opportunity to do right by our workers and communities vulnerable to the impacts of climate change by building infrastructure in a sustainable way. Efforts to curb emissions are a good start, but there is a vast and untapped potential that exists in initiatives that mandate energy efficiency retrofits in New York's largest buildings and replace inefficient boilers for example. Strategies like these can truly transform New York into a safer, more equitable city.