Mayor Myrick Proposes Green New Deal for Ithaca
Goal of a carbon neutral city by 2030 aligns with federal proposal
City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick announced last Thursday a proposal for ambitious new goals that amount to a Green New Deal for Ithaca. The announcement closed out an evening event hosted by Sunrise Movement Ithaca that focused on the federal Green New Deal, which aims to avoid the worst consequences of climate change while also trying to fix societal problems like economic inequality and racial injustice. The proposal will be discussed by the City Administration Committee on May 15th.
The new City goals are to:
- Meet the electricity needs of City government operations with 100% renewable electricity by 2025
- Achieve a carbon neutral city by 2030 ‐ that is, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100%
To achieve these goals, the Mayor proposed several specific actions:
- Create a Climate Action Plan in 2020 to provide details on how to achieve the Ithaca Green New Deal, and update the plan every five years
- Adopt a Green Building Policy for new buildings in 2019
- Adopt a Green Building Policy for existing buildings by 2021
- Assign additional staff as needed to implement the plan
"The scale of the problem facing our planet demands that we not simply set goals that we feel are ‘reasonable,’” Myrick says. “Just as Kennedy declared in 1962 that we would put a person on the moon before the decade was out, though how that would be achieved was yet unknown, we must set a similarly bold goal and then challenge ourselves to reach it. With a lack of leadership at the federal level, it has fallen to the states, to local governments, and to individual citizens to lead the way.”
A resolution to adopt the new goals will be considered at the May 15th meeting of the City Administration Committee. The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall, and as always, the public is invited to make comments at the beginning of the meeting. The meeting agenda, which includes the proposed resolution, will be posted to the City website the afternoon of May 10th.
“The economic development potential of a Green New Deal for Ithaca is exciting and should not be ignored,” states Deborah Mohlenoff, Acting Mayor and Chair of the City Administration Committee. “Beyond helping address climate goals and improving the health and resilience of our community, this initiative will potentially bring hundreds of millions of dollars of new local investment and hundreds of local jobs in fields such as renewable energy, construction, installation, and home retrofitting.
"This ambitious proposal is many things: it's inspiring, it's daunting, and I believe it's necessary," says Seph Murtagh, Chair of the City's Planning and Economic Development Committee. "It's hugely inspiring, because the City has this opportunity to take our leadership to a new level. But the question people are already asking is, 'How are we going to get there?' The coming Green Building Policy and the planned work on policies targeting energy use in existing buildings will get us a long way. As we plan for future projects, we'll need diverse input to ensure that this historic initiative will benefit our entire community."
As impetus for the Ithaca Green New Deal, the Mayor references ample scientific evidence and the emerging international consensus that we must work together to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Myrick also cites local sustainability professionals and activists – and especially the emerging youth climate movement – who have urged the City to show more leadership on this challenge.
“I am excited and proud that Mayor Myrick is proposing ambitious new goals and positive plans to address the climate crisis,” says Sara Hess, City of Ithaca resident. “I know that many people, young and old, want to do more in their daily lives to protect our environment. They also want to address inequity and to create a better economy where jobs and fair wages support families. The Green New Deal is an exciting plan that brings those goals together.”
Myrick acknowledges that the City can’t do it alone, and that it will be important to pressure the state and federal government for support while taking concrete steps to lower our own local emissions.
“There is no historical precedent for the pace and the scale of the transformation needed to achieve carbon neutrality in Ithaca by 2030,” Myrick states. “I intend to call on all citizens, businesses, and institutions in the community to help us achieve this ambitious goal. Building on our past successes improving equity and sustainability in the City, together we will achieve a more inclusive, healthy, and prosperous Ithaca.”
For information contact: Nick Goldsmith, Sustainability Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org