As New York City Climate Week wrapped up this week, City Council members announced that $1 million in funding will go towards programs aimed at encouraging environmental advocacy, education, community service and green-jobs training throughout the city, called the “Greener NYC” Initiative.
Local elected officials announced the new initiative from Williamsburg’s Green City Force, an AmeriCorps program in which young adults from low-income areas take part in environmental service projects. Green City Force, along with scores of other programs and organizations throughout all five boroughs, including the New York Botanical Garden and St. Nick’s Alliance, will receive funding as part of the initiative.
“A lot of people look at climate change and talk about the big international effort that will be required,” said Council member Donovan Richards. “While we have to think big about these issues we also can’t wait around to take action on the local level. New York City is committed to being a leader of environmentalism and sustainability on the city and national level. This initiative is part of the City Council’s ongoing commitment to making New York City greener and more environmentally friendly.”
“Greener NYC” is part of a series of City Council initiatives honing in on combatting climate change in the city, including legislation to reduce the city’s car fleet, and the passage of Local Law 66 in 2014, which requires New York City to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% before 2050.
“This initiative is so important,” said Council Environmental Protection Chair Costa Constantinides. “After we passed [Local Law 66], we have to set a pathway to that task. Becoming more green and more sustainable is not going to happen simply by setting a goal. Now we have to find the path and walk it.”
He said it was increasingly important to focus on teaching young people about the impacts of climate change and ways in which the city could begin to turn the tide on its damage.
“We’ll continue to train the next generation of young people to be engaged in these issues because they’re the ones who are going to have to come up with hard solutions,” he said. “If we don’t provide the education and outreach and involvement in the community, we’re always going to be talking about climate change as a challenge. This is an opportunity for young people to get involved, to become educated and become the next generation of leaders. This initiative does that, by putting money on the ground.”
20 year-old Kristian Cumba Gomez, a member of Green City Force, said that he had learned a tremendous amount since beginning the program 4 months ago. In addition to professional skills, he said his work, which primarily comprises educating NYCHA residents about energy and water conservation, and how basic tips can make a large environmental impact, had armed him with a strong knowledge base.
“Before Green City Force, I didn’t know anything about these issues,” he said. “Now I’m the one contributing my green foot print in society.”