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City Council wants climate change education

By Bill Parry

The New York City Council is calling on the state Department of Education to include lessons on climate change in the curriculum of the state’s public K-12 schools.

A resolution sponsored by Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) passed overwhelmingly in a vote last Friday.

“To achieve long-lasting effects in our environmental efforts, future generations must be engaged,” Constantinides said. “Students should be equipped with the knowledge and 21st-century concepts they’ll need to care for our planet. That’s why it’s so important that they learn about the environment and climate change throughout their school day. We must work together to make the future of our planet better for our children, This resolution seeks to include students as a key aspect for our efforts to combat climate change.”

The resolution calls on the state to include climate change not only in science but also in politics, economics and history lessons.

“It’s time we began educating one another on what’s really going on with climate change and what we can do,” Global Kids Leader and High School for Medical Professions senior Brianna Johnson said. “In order to have a massive effect on climate change, people must first be well educated. Once we’ve been educated, we can then, and only then, fight to save what’s been destroyed by climate change.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced major new steps to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from more than one million buildings — of all sizes, types and uses — and put the city on a pathway to an 80 percent reduction in all emissions by 2050, while creating green jobs and generating energy savings for building owners and tenants.

The mayor also outlined a series of programs that will provide technical and financial support to building owners and managers in making these significant improvements.

“Cities that lead on climate change, lead on buildings,” de Blasio said. “We’ve set bold goals as we take on climate change and clear a path to meet them. The city has been leading the way by greening our own public facilities. Now, these new initiatives will dramatically reduce emissions from New York City’s over one million buildings, while saving New Yorkers millions and creating thousands of new jobs — and we’ll be providing owners support throughout the process.”

Buildings account for nearly three-quarters of all emissions in New York City and some of the new mandates will include requiring buildings to complete cost-effective energy conservation measures like improved burner controls for boilers and covering open freezers and refrigerators in retail stores.

Large and mid-size buildings will be required to improve their heating systems in the next 10 years.

The measures will eventually help reduce greenhouse emissions by 2.7 million metric tons, which is the equivalent of getting 560,000 cars off the road, officials say.

“Because buildings produce almost 75 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, we must ensure our policies will make our buildings more energy efficient,” Constantinides, the chairman of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee, said. “Whether through heating system upgrades, new building construction, or new benchmarking systems, we must lead the way toward our goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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