New York City Declared A Climate Emergency — This Is What That Actually Means

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The Big Apple has officially declared a resolution to combat climate change at the city level, The Hill reported on Wednesday. Now, you may be wondering what a climate emergency is. New York City's declaration is largely symbolic, according to The Hill, but the legislation carries some passionate words about reducing the impact of climate change on the environment. With this move, New York City has become the biggest municipality in America to announce a climate emergency, according to The Huffington Post.

The New York City Council passed the legislation on Wednesday (which didn't require the city's mayor's signature, per HuffPost) and called for "an immediate emergency mobilization to restore a safe climate." The official text for the measure runs its readers through a myriad of pressing climate issues. Although it doesn't offer an official definition of a "climate emergency" per se, the legislation points to rising global temperatures, intensifying wildfires, rising sea levels, droughts, diseases, declines in global wildlife populations, pollution, and the extreme alteration of marine environments as issues that collectively constitute a "climate emergency."

Other groups have also presented their own descriptions of the problem. For example, according to the Council Action in the Climate Emergency, a climate emergency is the result of "humans putting additional greenhouse gases in our atmosphere." Other groups like The Climate Mobilization assert that calling the crisis a "climate emergency" is important because it "is the critical first step to launching the comprehensive mobilization required to rescue and rebuild civilization."

It's worth mentioning here that the legislation does not mention any specific date for the implementation of steps to tackle climate change, but it does list multiple measures that the city will take. For example, according to its official text, the plan would involve expanding existing renewable power sources as well as providing residential and commercial buildings with "state-of-the-art- energy" efficient sources.

It also mentions that the city will tackle the production of greenhouse gases caused by the burning of fossil fuels like oil and coal. In a move that may provide immense relief to many New Yorkers, the city's council said in its legislation that it would also work on repairing and improving its transportation system.

"New York City, as the largest city in the United States, can act as a global leader by both converting to an ecologically, socially, and economically regenerative economy at emergency speed," the legislation's text says, "and by organizing a transition to renewable energy and climate emergency mobilization effort."

On a broader level, the legislation pointedly adds, "The United States of America has disproportionately contributed to the climate emergency and has repeatedly obstructed global efforts to transition toward a green economy."

By global efforts, the text may be indirectly referring to the Trump administration pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017, presumably among other things. As a country then, according to the legislation's text, the United States "bears an extraordinary responsibility to rapidly address these existential threats."

If you're interested, you can read more about the legislation on the official website of the New York City Council.