The climate strike began at City Hall Park and marched downtown to Battery Park, where speakers, students of all ages, and organizers came together to demand more political recognition and action against climate change. An unsurprising sight since last week, Sept. 20-24, was United Nations Climate Week in the city.
Many of the young marchers were a part of local climate advocate groups, such as Launch Middle School, Green New Deal, the Sunrise Movement, and No NBK Pipeline.
Aderinsola Babawale, 19, of the Brownsville Green Justice organization, paused briefly to speak about the gas bill strike and lawsuit they’ve filed against National Grid and their controversial pipeline that’s set to run through North Brooklyn. Construction on the fracked gas pipeline started back in 2017 and has completed several stages so far, but coalitions like Babawale’s have been fighting tooth and nail to slow down and stop its completion.
“They were trying to use NYCHA as a pawn to say the gas will be flowing and heating homes,” said Babawale. “That infrastructure is not going to provide anything for anyone. It’s only going to provide more money to line the pockets of CEOs and ignore everybody’s well-being.”
Activist Ali Diini, one of the youngest candidates running for Senate District 30 in Harlem, said that signing a green new deal should be the governor’s highest priority.
“This is unequally affecting communities of color, frontline communities, I myself had my basement flooded because of Hurricane Ida,” said Diini at the rally. “Climate change, this is a crisis that’s happening today.”
While the youth-led climate strike marched through downtown Manhattan, Mayor-elect and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and other electeds addressed the rising threat of extreme weather in the city outside NYCHA’s Haber Houses in Brooklyn.
The site is a senior development that is one of more than two dozen public housing sites still rebuilding from Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, said Adams. “Let’s face it, we screwed up the planet, let’s get it right,” said Adams.
Adams said that his resiliency plan deals with “prevention,” such as long-term goals of ending dependence on fossil fuels and having clean energy lines, and “intervention” which focuses on creating an early warning system to notify residents ahead of time and bringing basement apartments up to code.
Adams said he wants to incentivize more green buildings, fast track storm funding for recovery, appoint a climate czar that can weigh in on the resiliency of land use and development projects, and prioritize environmental justice projects.
“We must emphasize what we must do now to protect life, to protect property, and to protect New Yorkers and businesses that we saw devastated in Hurricane Ida,” said Adams.
Current Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced his beefed up blueprints for climate resiliency and how to deal with extreme storms.
Last Wednesday, Sept. 22, de Blasio put out the plan for a $75 million investment for more electric vehicles and charging stations, which there are 90 of in current operation (eight for public use). And in Monday’s briefing, Sept. 27, the mayor said he is planning a $2.1 billion investment for the Department of Environmental Protection and $238 million in DEP projects, based on a storm-related extreme weather report the city compiled.
The new report charts a path for investing in vulnerable neighborhoods, shoring up infrastructure, warning communities ahead of major weather events, and better tracking storms before they arrive, said de Blasio.
“Extreme weather is more common than ever, and more severe than ever. Business as usual is over. Keeping New Yorkers safe means profoundly changing the way we prepare for—and react to—this new normal,” said de Blasio.
Adams said that de Blasio’s plan is a “great starting point” for a proper response and should be built out more.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w