- The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey became the first transit agency in the United States to agree to uphold the goals of the Paris climate accord, it announced last week.
- The authority joined the We Are Still In coalition, and has goals of electrifying its entire bus fleet, spending $100 million on energy retrofits and instituting new renewable energy initiatives across its facilities. It has an interim target of reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 35% by 2025, with the long-term goal of 80% GHG reduction by 2050.
- "New York and New Jersey are providing strong leadership in the fight to reduce GHG emission to mitigate future climate change," Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said in a statement. "Today the Port Authority is stepping up to reduce our emissions and committing to a leadership role in reducing the agency’s own carbon footprint, and in seeking ways to reduce emission throughout the transportation sector."
Since President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord last year, there has been momentum at the city, state and local level to uphold the agreement’s ambitious goals to combat climate change and reduce GHG emissions. More than 2,700 signatories have joined the We Are Still In coalition, including mayors, governors, business leaders and university officials. A report by the America’s Pledge initiative found the U.S. is almost halfway toward achieving the goals of Paris, albeit with plenty of work still ahead and without the help of the federal government.
Similarly, fellow New Yorker and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a key advocate for cities upholding the Paris agreement, contributing money from his personal fortune to make up the funding shortfall, while his charitable arm Bloomberg Philanthropies has been honoring cities as winners of its American Cities Climate Challenge.
It is significant that the Port Authority is taking this action, given the sheer size and scale of its facilities in the two states. It is responsible for six airports, including John F. Kennedy International (JFK), LaGuardia and Newark, which form the largest airport system in the country and is second in the world for passenger traffic, behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
"Either we end this problem or this problem will end us," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement, providing leadership in the face of reports that climate change is a problem that must be brought under control soon.