“There Isn’t Going to be a Cheap and Easy Solution”: LM Live Panel on How to Combat the Threat of Climate Change
As we prepare for what meteorologists predict will be an unusually hot and hurricane-heavy summer, LM Live‘s second monthly Women’s Breakfast, held at The Studio at 7 World Trade Center, focused on ways to build a more sustainable city using top-down solutions. Panelists Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation voters, and Clare Newman, President & CEO of the Trust for Governors Island, offered a number of moves city leadership, private organizations and individuals could take to prepare New York for a future marked by climate change, with editor Alyssa Katz of The City moderating.
Both panelists noted that climate change poses a significant threat to the future of our city, country and planet, and that some defensive measures — like raising and softening shorelines and offering buyouts for homeowners in flood-prone areas — will need to be enacted quickly. But the real challenge will be implementing long-term offensive measures, like reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
Tighe pressed the importance of transitioning new and old residential buildings from fuel to electric power, noting that it should be a major focus for new development. “We want to make it harder for buildings to access gas lines,” she said. And, Tighe said, it’s not just real estate development that needs to transition away from gas infrastructure. “We really need to tackle the transportation sector,” Tighe said, pointing out that even despite the recent push to produce electric cars, there will be millions of vehicles on the road for the next 20 to 30 years that run on fossil fuels. Both panelists agreed that the city will need to rethink the streetscape, install more charging stations for electric vehicles and transition public transit vehicles onto electric energy.
Newman spoke about the just transition to green jobs, noting that the city needed to protect low-income communities from taking on the financial burden of moving away from fossil fuels. “New York City needs a major paradigm shift for workplace development,” she said. “We need to invest in deep, expensive, longer-form training programs. There isn’t going to be a cheap and easy solution.”
And both panelists addressed financial challenges of maintaining public spaces with public money, something the city has struggled with over the years. Though Newman said that she hoped philanthropic organizations would get more involved as climate change anxiety increased, Tighe said that relying on the private sector to fund public spaces would hurt low-income communities, and that this was the mayor’s responsibility. “Most cities invest more in their parks,” she said. “We need to be making investments in them. It needs to be a priority.”Tags: climate change, lm live, womens breakfast