Thought Piece

After living in Manhattan in 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s, I find myself wishing for a new David Dinkins who can do no harm to the world’s financial markets.

Financial Times Blasts New York Mayor De Blasio’s Climate Stunts


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The Financial Times asks, if De Blasio is so hot on tackling climate change, why does he ride in a SUV every day when he visits the gym?

New York’s easy answers on climate change

Fixing infrastructure would be better for the city, and the planet

JANUARY 13, 2018 6 Climate change, New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio declaimed on Wednesday, is “a painful, horrible reality”. He is right, which is why it is disappointing to watch him refusing to face that reality squarely. Mr de Blasio talks a good game on climate change. Some of his initiatives responding to the threat have been worthwhile. But like his fellow Democrat and rival Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York State, he has a weakness for grandstanding instead of tackling the difficult challenges. Transport is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State, and its impact is exacerbated by traffic congestion, dirty vehicles and crumbling infrastructure. Fixing those problems would do more to address the threat the city faces, and to improve the lives of New Yorkers, than attention-seeking stunts.

The worst aspect of these initiatives, though, is that they deflect attention away from the politicians’ own contribution to the problem. When Mr de Blasio said this week that it was “time for Big Oil to take responsibility for the devastation they have wrought”, it was a disingenuous oversimplification.

Without those oil companies, New Yorkers would have frozen in their homes in the bitter cold of the past week, and Mr de Blasio would not be able to ride an SUV to the gym every weekday.

It is true that fossil fuel interests have had a generally toxic effect on the debate over climate change in the US, corrupting the Republican party in particular into a reckless refusal to acknowledge climate science and its implications. But rather than looking for easy scapegoats in Texas or Europe, Mr de Blasio and Mr Cuomo should acknowledge their own responsibilities closer to home. Mr de Blasio has opposed a congestion charge for New York City, which would both improve traffic and raise revenue. Mr Cuomo, who controls the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that runs the city’s subway, has presided over mismanagement and under-investment that are bringing the system to its knees. It has been far too slow to adopt technology such as electric buses already used in cities around the world, with the first pilot launched only this week.

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What a surprise – a climate crusader who rides around in a SUV, who prefers high profile publicity stunts ahead of addressing real problems with solutions which might improve the lives of the people who voted for him, solutions which might even reduce New York’s carbon footprint.