During the last town hall debate on Wednesday, candidates were asked if they were in favor of homeowners renovating their properties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The answer, unanimously, was no.
âCan we fund it? Andrew Yang asked in response.
âWe need PACE, we need other investments to work with building owners to make this real,â said Shaun Donovan, referring to the newly implemented funding program meant to make building improvements reducing emissions more affordable for homeowners.
Local Law 97, passed in 2019, calls for a 40% reduction in city-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Under this measure, buildings over 25,000 square feet must start meeting the ceilings in 2024 or face heavy fines. .
Comptroller Scott Stringer, a strong advocate for the law, timidly raised his hand several times as if to show his support for the mandate, but ultimately failed to weigh in.
The responses were probably encouraging to those in the real estate industry who argued that the law unfairly penalizes buildings that are unlikely to meet emission caps, even with renovations.
“We have already suggested several changes that the next mayor and the next city council need to implement to improve this law and it is clear that mayoral candidates are hearing this crucial message from owners across town,” said Stuart Saft. , Chairman of the New York Council. Co-operatives and Condominiums, a group that calls for tax relief for owners of condos and co-ops who need help complying with the law, among other changes.
Jordan Barowitz of the Durst Organization found the candidates’ responses “reassuring” because “they understand that the architecture of the bill is flawed because it punishes density.” He and others criticized the measure for failing to account for the energy efficiency of high-density buildings relative to their high occupancy and 24-hour use.
Many candidates have already pledged to meet the targets set by local law 97. In fact, Yang has pledged to accelerate reductions, targeting a 50% city-wide reduction in emissions by 2030 , rather than the legal target of 40%. .
A summary of candidates’ positions on climate change compiled by The City indicates that Dianne Morales, former CEO of Phipps Neighborhoods, believes the law is “strong as it is.” Kathryn Garcia, Eric Adams, Maya Wiley, Ray McGuire, Yang, Donovan and Stringer told the website that the next mayor should prioritize helping homeowners fund such improvements.
Peter Sikora, director of climate and inequality campaigns at New York Communities for Change – a group that campaigned against proposed workarounds to Local Law 97 – said he believed the candidates had misunderstood the question during debate. He expressed disappointment that the issue was left until the flash part of the debate.
âThe way it was worded was strange, out of context, almost hostile,â he said.
He also pointed out that Stringer, Donovan, Wiley and Yang had signed his organization’s âGreen New Dealâ pledge to fund and enforce local law 97 and to ban gas connections in new construction and renovations. major.
On Thursday, Morales said she supported Local Law 97 but challenged the wording of the question, saying it lacked “qualifiers.” She said the timeline for rolling out the law is good, but the city should consider how large buildings are defined and whether help should be provided to homeowners to help them comply.
She also supports a ban on gas and oil connections, but believes the city needs to consider how owners of small buildings would be affected. Other candidates during the debate agreed that such a ban should be phased in.
A bill banning fossil fuel hook-ups in new buildings or gut renovations was introduced last month. The ban would go into effect two years after it was passed, years ahead of Blasio’s administration’s goal of banning the use of gas and oil by 2030.
James Whelan, chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York, said achieving the goals of Local Law 97 is “vital.”
“However, it is increasingly clear that this law will need to be amended if we are to achieve these common goals,” he said in a statement. âGiven this administration’s failure to significantly reduce carbon emissions during its tenure, the next administration must meet this challenge by correcting the fundamental flaws in local law 97 and ensuring the carbon reductions we we need.”