New York City Allocates Nearly $300 Million Of Sandy Funds For Climate Change Resiliency Plan

On Friday, the City of New York allocated $294 million of Superstorm Sandy recovery funds for resiliency projects to respond to the threat of fossil-fueled climate change.

The announcement was part of the unveiling of NYC’s plan for $1.77 billion in Sandy recovery initiatives by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) at New York City Hall:

The City has set aside $294 million for resiliency investments to be detailed in a report issued by the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency later this month.

“HUD’s approval of our comprehensive Action Plan enables us to take the next critical step toward recovery – launching the programs for home rebuilding and business assistance that will rejuvenate the neighborhoods Sandy hit hardest,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway. “We’ll also take the first steps toward making the City more resilient to the impacts that we know climate change will bring.”

The sequester cuts reduced the planned budget for resilience from an original $327 million.

The New York City Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) was established by Bloomberg in November, 2012, with an explicit mission to address global warming:

When it comes to climate change, New York City has long been considered a leader in long-term sustainable planning, but Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call to all New Yorkers.

Seth Pinsky, NYC Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency director

SIRR is directed by W. Seth Pinsky, the President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the quasi-public agency that supports urban development projects in the city, in close coordination with the NYC Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, led since December 2012 by Sergej Mahnovski, a renewable-energy expert. Goldman Sachs vice president Marc Ricks, a lead architect of New York’s sustainability roadmap, PlaNYC, took a leave of absence from the investment firm to join the SIRR team.

The report “will present policy recommendations, infrastructure priorities, and community plans, and identify sources of long-term funding” in addition to the $294 million in emergency federal funds.

SIRR’s climate-resiliency plan is being developed in consultation with the New York City Panel on Climate Change, co-chaired by climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig and urban environmental scientist William Solecki. The climate panel has previously estimated that by 2050, New York City will face seven to 29 inches of sea level rise caused by man-made global warming.

According to Pinsky, the city is also “working with McKinsey and SwissRe to quantify the cost that climate change is likely to impose on the city in the future.” In a recent public presentation, Pinsky said that global warming is a “very serious challenge” for the entire planet:

We’re facing a very serious challenge, not just as a city, but as a planet. And that challenge cannot just be counted in terms of inches of sea level rise, but also in terms of dollars and cents.

The initiative’s team spent the month of March holding public community meetings across the areas of the city hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy. SIRR has also held close, private consultations with New York City’s powerful real estate developers, many represented by former Bloomberg officials.

Reports indicate that the Pinsky plan is unlikely to recommend the construction of tidal barriers or a directed retreat from vulnerable coastlines, in line with Bloomberg’s desire to reject pessimistic implications of catastrophic and rapid sea level rise for the city.

It is unclear whether Pinsky’s plan will address the primary cause of global warming, the burning of fossil fuels. In addition to New York City’s direct carbon footprint, the global financial capital plays a central role in financing the carbon extraction industry, personified by New York City’s richest man, carbon billionaire David H. Koch. Any investment in climate resilience to protect New York City will be for naught if the city does not divest itself from the likes of Koch.

The $294 million in federal funds allocated by New York for climate resilience is equivalent to one-third of one percent of the personal fortune of the Koch brothers.

33 Responses to New York City Allocates Nearly $300 Million Of Sandy Funds For Climate Change Resiliency Plan

  1. Ed Leaver says:

    On a related topic, EE News reports California Utility wins rate increase as costs of climate policies rise. San Diego Gas&Electric got less than half the $55 million they sought. Among the losers, SDG&E had sought $5.2 million to add public access charging facilities for PEVs in “locations that are not necessarily commercially or economically desirable, but needed to serve the broader and growing PEV charging needs of the public”. CPUC thought this premature, and it was denied.

  2. Paul Klinkman says:

    “The $294 million in federal funds allocated by New York for climate resilience is equivalent to one-third of one percent of Koch’s personal fortune.”

    Mathematics audit: $294 million times 300 is $88.2 billion. How much is David Koch’s brother Charles worth?

  3. fj says:

    Yes a third of a billion is a miniscule amount in a city with real estate alone valued in excess of one trillion dollars and central to the New York Metrolitan Region which does in excess of one trillion dollars per year economic activity.

    Still seems that reality and the fear factor survival instinct has yet to kick, but may be rapidly approaching.

  4. fj says:

    Cities have tremendous potential in the battle against climate change.

  5. Paul Klinkman says:

    No one has the slightest clue how little is needed to do the case studies and product development to solve half of the climate change problem. NYC would get more bang for its buck just in terms of saving NYC lives and property, not to mention saving most of the world’s species, and not to mention the jobs created when some petty tyrant’s oil is replaced by local elbow grease.

    $294 million might build an additional 10 foot barrier around the city’s tunnels and subways. Soon enough the 11 foot additional tidal surge will come. Climate change is like that. Build a 15 foot barrier and soon enough the 16 foot surge will come. Katrina created a 39 foot tidal surge over coastal Mississippi, and it was only a category 2 storm when it landed.

  6. Joan Savage says:

    If the President’s meeting with utility executives is a clue, ‘resiliency’ might get an operative definition that includes utility grid monitoring and flexibility for re-routing.

  7. Paul Magnus says:

    The cost of leisure

  8. Paul Magnus says:

    yup, little bit more than serious though.

    “We’re facing a very serious challenge, not just as a city, but as a planet. “

  9. Merrelyn Emery says:

    From what I’ve seen of NYC, parts of it are no more salvagable than parts of Sydney etc. Wouldn’t the money be better spent relocating these people and functions? ME

  10. Superman1 says:

    Irrelevant. McPherson, on his site, concludes we are headed for NTE – Near-Term Extinction. His estimation is by mid-century. I would add a generation in the nominal case: end of century if we are very lucky, mid-century if we are unlucky.

  11. Superman1 says:

    He states that ‘Obama and others in his administration knew near-term extinction of humans was already guaranteed. Even before the dire feedbacks were reported by the scientific community, the Obama administration abandoned climate change as a significant issue because it knew we were done as early as 2009’.

  12. Superman1 says:

    There is no way we can stay within the required CO2 emission constraints trajectory. The proposals presented here confirm that conclusion; they don’t even come close. Their only impact will be to increase the assets of their proponents.

  13. Superman1 says:

    We are too far out of balance with Nature; there is No Way Out. McPherson recognizes this; Obama recognizes this; I recognize this. By their disinterest and lack of action, the global electorate recognizes this as well!

  14. fj says:

    Hardening the subways is estimated on the scale of something like 10 $billion.

    Barriers to NY Harbor a lot more and probably 20 years into the future if ever.

    The money they are talking about here might be for restoring stuff like sand dunes and marsh lands, more greenery on coastal areas to mitigate surges and heavy downpours.

    And, small scale hazard mitigation of the built environment.

  15. fj says:

    Silly idea.

    There are many vibrant and productive communities in NYC, even near and in some of the most toxic areas such as Newtown Creek and The Gowanus Canal.

    Real estate values are quite high.

    People are the most important part of natural capital. Damaged natural capital can be restored.

  16. fj says:

    Does not make any sense.

    There are many vibrant and productive communities in NYC, even near and in some of the most toxic areas such as Newtown Creek and The Gowanus Canal.

    Real estate values are quite high.

    People are the most important part of natural capital. Damaged natural capital can and is being restored.

  17. fj says:

    The estimate is that 5.7 trillion dollars by 2020 per year is required to battle climate change; which is on par with fossil fuel industry revenues.

    Currently, only about 360 $billion is being spent per year.

    Major can rapidly mobilize to rapidly reduce most emissions within 5 years including net zero transit and building efficiency and energy retrofits, smart micro grids, green and solar zones, etc.

    Eradication of deforestation is also major.

    A lot of the 5.7 $trillion has to go to the developing world.

  18. fj says:

    If the world economy is heavily exposed to 6 $trillion in losses from the collapse of a fossil fuel bubble, then the fossil fuel industry must be incouraged (or forced) to reinvent itself in renewables, storage, transport etc. thereby mitigating both financial and environmental risk.

  19. fj says:

    Creating virtuous circles and net positive change: accomplishing major efficiencies and reduction of emissions, waste, etc. will free up more capital for further advancements rapidly reducing emissions and restoring the environment

  20. Merrelyn Emery says:

    fj, I’m sure you love NYC but the polar ice sheets are going to keep melting for a long time yet. I’m also sure the fish will be happy to pay those high real estate values, ME

  21. fj says:

    Sick joke if that’s the intent.

    Many of the most toxic zones you talk about have been rezoned as solar and green zones where warehouse roofs have the best exposure to the sun.

    The entire city has been surveyed for solar exposure.

    The world’s large roof garden is a next to Newton Creek were so far something like 10 million gallons have been pulled out.

    Bikeshare is rolling out May 27 and is early stage net zero transit; and, slow zones are proliferating around the streets where safe streets are the first crucial step breaking the highly destructive and wasteful monopoly of transportation systems based on cars.

    And, Bloomberg heads organization the world’s largest cities to do battle against accelerating climate change.

    20,000 homes were restored in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy.

    And the lists go on.

    Get used to it we are going after this thing.

  22. fj says:

    Ignorant joke to boot, as the storms already upon us will precede many years before the Antarctic ice cap is gone and the type of high water you are imagining if we can’t stop this thing.

  23. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Sounds wonderful but how are going to stop SLR and keep the sea out? ME

  24. fj says:

    People having been working hard restoring these formerly depressed neighborhoods to some of the most desirable in the country.

    The film business with stages and locations humming all over the city and has never been this busy.

    And now we are still recovering from Sandy and you wring your hands and cackle as we have to plan hazard mitigation to minimize future exposure while rapidly reducing emissions.

  25. Paul Klinkman says:

    Let’s try another nudge. If you’re claiming that David Koch is worth $88 billion and if his brother Charles is worth another $88 billion, then you’re claiming that the both of them are worth $176 billion? Final answer?

  26. Merrelyn Emery says:

    I am not doing any such thing. I am just being realistic about what is in front of us all and would appreciate answers to my questions, ME

  27. fj says:

    Read what you wrote.

    In any case, the biggest problem is flood surges and flash floods from heavy deluges which just happened a couple of days ago doing considersble damage and new NYC Dept of Buildings regulations specify building above flood heights.

    “with the fishes” sea surface heights you joke about will happen if we do not move fastest to stop emissions and restore the environment.

  28. Merrelyn Emery says:

    fj, parts of NYC are inevitably going to end up under water. Do you know how much water is held in the Antarctic ice sheets? I’m not knocking your efforts but there should be some relocations, ME

  29. Merrelyn Emery says:

    If you mean my crack about real estate values, yes the mind did momentarily boggle that you could consider such a thing while most of us are worrying about the 6th extinction, ME

  30. fj says:


    The coasts all over the world in threatened to go under water.

    So what?

    Humanity has naturally gravitated to the world’s coasts.

    I am talking about the world’s great cities being a major way to stop accelerating climate change.

    What are you talking about?

  31. fj says:

    Yes, the crack about real estate values.

    Money is not real.

    Power is not real.

    Now tell me: Are you for real?

  32. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Now that’s just childish, ME

  33. Brad Johnson, Guest Blogger says:

    Thanks, that should say the fortune of the Koch brothers together, which is 88-90 billion.