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NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio is pointing to his mayoral record on climate change as he tries to gain traction in the Democratic presidential field, but almost six years into his tenure, much of his environmental resume is heavier on rhetoric than actual gains.
De Blasio — known in New York City for being shuttled from his mayoral mansion in an SUV, albeit a hybrid model, to his gym in another part of town — has made a recent habit of making grand pronouncements on his climate accomplishments.
Priority - Health - Care - Issues - Education
“It’s a priority unlike any other because we deal with, obviously, the health care issues, we deal with education, we deal with so many other issues, but nothing compares to survival,” de Blasio said during recent campaign swing through Iowa.
But whether it's building emissions, organic waste collection or even protections in the event of another major storm, the New York City mayor's priorities seem to have been largely elsewhere during his tenure, and his actual accomplishments on climate often fall short of his oratory.
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“I think he is talking a lot about the environment because it’s trending and thinks that it will help him with his presidential ambitions,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE, a Latino organization in Brooklyn that advocates for sustainability issues. “But just in terms of his record, I feel that he’s moved very slowly. He makes big, sweeping statements and has big, bold, sweeping goals, but the action doesn’t come close to those statements.”
Buildings are by far the biggest source of greenhouse gases in New York City, making up roughly 70 percent of the city’s emissions. De Blasio launched a program in 2015 to get landlords to voluntarily cut emissions. In 2016, he announced — just in time for a U.N. conference on the Paris climate accord —...
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