As a global leader in technological innovation and progressive ideals, New York City can set a precedent for sustainable cities around the world. I have a long-demonstrated commitment to protecting our environment in both my personal and professional life. I’ve been an ethical vegan for 15 years and worked with multiple advocacy organizations on environmental campaigns. As a candidate, I’m a proud signatory to the Green New Deal for New York and No Fossil Fuel Money Pledges. Most recently, I worked with a local nonprofit on Roosevelt Island to prevent overdevelopment that threatened biodiversity in existing green space and participated in an upcoming documentary about the threat of corporate interests to the local environment.
Build a clean energy future. I will work to reinvigorate ongoing energy projects in the City, including the PACE financial program and many of the programs implemented by the Climate Mobilization Act of 2018. Increased funding to alternate energy sources such as wind and solar and democratizing control over energy supply lines will allow for an equitable and smooth transition away from fossil fuels.
Prepare for and prevent future crises. I believe in the necessity of a citywide plan to ensure that the city remains resilient against future natural disasters and other crises. I will work to prohibit development in evacuation zone floodplains while ensuring the preservation of wetlands and ecosystems. We must immediately divest all government entities from fossil fuel companies and reinvestment in clean energy infrastructure projects.
Pursue environmental justice locally and beyond. I will pursue environmental justice for District 5 as well as collaborate with the city and surrounding districts on committing to plans to fight for the Green New Deal, green energy, and climate awareness. District 5 is bordered by the beautiful East River. Ensuring that our residents are weather protected from storm surges through resilient infrastructure as sea levels rise will be a top priority.
Invest in parks and green spaces. The increased reliance on parks and green spaces in New York City due to the pandemic presents a new opportunity to enhance one of our most valuable public goods. I intend to capitalize on this momentum by investing in public parks and community gardens, as well as increasing protections for our public forests and wildlife preserves. I support committing 1-2% of the City’s budget to parks and green spaces, an amount on par with other major U.S. cities. We must increase accessibility for low-income and marginalized groups that have historically faced both direct and indirect exclusion from the City’s parks. I will advocate for the construction of new parks and playgrounds in Black and brown communities, which have historically been located the farthest away from green space and recreation areas. I will also help to clarify the procedures of the NYC Parks Department’s Capital Division, which will increase the output of successful projects that help maintain the beauty of our City.
Reinforce buildings new and old. The transition to green housing has the dual impact of preventing the destruction of our environment and creating innovative and efficient systems of living. Many of our buildings are outdated and in desperate need of sustainable updates. Lead poisoning continues to be a problem across the City. Chris will support legislation that fosters increased partnership across government agencies and allows the City to quickly harness the resources necessary to prevent and end lead exposure and other symptoms of neglect and decay.
Keep our City cool. When our Earth warms, our City follows. Heat fatalities are a rapidly growing problem, particularly for older residents. I will fight for proper implementation of the Cool Neighborhoods program, an initiative that will work to counteract what is predicted to be a 5.7° F increase in NYC average temperatures by the 2050s. In addition, I will lead an evaluation of the impact of increased heat exposure that children have faced while participating in virtual school from home. We must decarbonize all New York City housing with retrofits and efficiency upgrades while making sure that these costs aren’t forced upon tenants.
Reduce transportation emissions. Transportation is a major source of air pollution and it’s the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York State. One fortunate outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is that a major drop in air pollution shows us that reducing traffic can make a real difference. Legislation limiting rideshare programs will vastly decrease our City’s emissions output. Rideshare programs greatly increase personal vehicle use in cities and increase traffic congestion substantially. As a City Council member I will advocate for expanded low-carbon transit options in New York City.
Build a low-carbon transit infrastructure. Electric buses, trolleys, a commuter train, and bike-sharing, as well as improved bike infrastructure, will be essential for the improved efficiency of our transit system as we shift towards a low emissions future. To accomplish this, I will support the implementation of the Better Bus Action Plan, and focus in particular on transit deserts in low-income communities. New Yorkers are more likely to skip driving and other high-emission transit options when their neighborhoods are safer and more walkable. This is why I endorse the expansion of mixed-use zoning in the City, an effort that will encourage public transit, walking, and biking and enhance the communal atmosphere of our City. To protect the health of all New Yorkers, I will use my platform as a City Council member to make sure that City leaders honor their pledge to electrify all City vehicles by 2040. We can reduce air pollution further by pushing the MTA to introduce and operate electric buses at an increased rate, particularly in communities that have historically faced bad air quality due to systemic inequities.
Better serve environmental justice communities. Immigrants, communities of color, and low-income workers have faced a long history of neglect and mistreatment by our government. Often, this translates to abandonment during environmental disasters, as well as throughout the long-term effects of climate change. I am deeply committed to environmental justice and will work to ensure that the transition to a sustainable city prioritizes the needs of these groups. I will lead targeted cleanup efforts in areas that have faced disproportionate levels of pollution.
Support community-led efforts. Overburdened communities deserve agency over their own land and future. I will work to democratize land use planning and provide spaces for community members to control decisions surrounding affordable energy, water, and sewage utilities. I will also support legislation ensuring preventative infrastructure and sound disaster relief systems in coastal communities so that when disasters do happen, our residents and their homes are protected.
Protect workers during economic transitions. As we transition to a green economy, we must ensure that all residents receive equal and fair treatment. I will advocate for green jobs for former fossil fuel industry workers. I support the Renewable Rikers plan to transform the island into a model of green energy and job creation. The coalition has made immense progress recently, but it will require determination and persistent leadership to make sure that the promise of a Renewable Riker’s Island becomes a reality.