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posted 03/05/02

Climate Extremes and Change:
Decision-Making in the New York Metropolitan Region

Regional Responses To Climate Change

Cities for Climate Protection
Resolution No. 1923 was passed on June 29, 2001 by the New York City Council, making New York City a Climate Protection City and supporting the initiation of plans and implementation activities that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the City. The Resolution follows principles of the Cities for Climate Protection campaign developed by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), which has been adopted by more than 500 cities.

High Performance Buildings
The New York City Department of Design and Construction developed High Performance Building Guidelines, a set of design and implementation guidelines that maximize operational energy savings while minimizing detrimental environmental impacts of building construction and operation. A key feature and benefit of high performance building is the reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions that accompanies decrease in energy use.

Metropolitan East Coast Assessment
One of the regional components of the National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change for the United States, Climate Change and a Global City investigated the potential impacts of climate variability and change on the natural systems and human activities of the New York metropolitan region. The Report was published by the Columbia Earth Institute in July 2001.

Follow-on research activities currently underway include:

• Health: Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health has received an EPA Star grant to lead a multi-university study that examines future scenarios of global climate change and regional land-use change as drivers of changing local climate and air quality. The study will also develop improved tools for assessing urban health risks due to heat stress and air quality changes.
Contact: Joyce Rosenthal

• Storm Surge: The Marine Sciences Research Center, Stony Brook University, has begun a two-year evaluation of the hydrologic feasibility of storm surge barriers to protect the central part of the metropolitan New York and New Jersey region from flooding.
Contact: Douglas Hill

• Climate Change Information System: CIESIN at Columbia University will develop a climate change information system focused on the New York metropolitan area. Information needs for coastal zone and transportation system managers will be determined through interviews and focus groups.
Contact: Roberta Balstad Miller

Governor's Task Force on Greenhouse Gases
Gov. Pataki's Task Force has been working since June 2001 to consider specific policies that will reduce New York's greenhouse gas emissions. A Report and Action Plan are expected in the spring of 2002.

New York State Greenhouse Gas Action Plan
Developed by NYSERDA and NYSDEC, with citizen input from the New York City Greenhouse Gas Working Group, the New York State Greenhouse Gas Action Plan projects state-level impacts on greenhouse gas emissions for a variety of technologies, reviews existing initiatives, and offers suggestions of programs and institutional implementation at state and local levels. For information, email

New York State Energy Plan
The State's major energy policy is currently available for input and review. The Energy Plan, issued every four years, affects State budget and operating priorities. Public hearings are being held through March 2002. The plan is available in pdf format in the "what's new" section at:

About The Earth Institute
The Earth Institute at Columbia University is the world's leading academic center for the integrated study of Earth, its environment and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines — earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences — and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world's poor. For more information, visit