Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Mayor Eric Adams showing True Leadership in New York City

On the 17th of April, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Chief Climate Officer and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala released the city’s first integrated greenhouse gas inventory, which incorporates emissions from the production and consumption of food. Those emissions represent 20 percent of New York City’s overall emissions — the third largest source, behind buildings (35 percent) and transportation (21 percent).

“New York City is leading the world when it comes to combating climate change, because we’re using every option on the menu in our fight — and that includes changing our menus, too,” said Mayor Adams. “This new emissions report shows us that plant-powered food isn’t just good for our physical and mental health, but good for the planet as well. We’ve already made great strides in reducing our food emissions by leading with plant-based meals in our public hospitals and introducing Plant-Powered Fridays in our public schools. Now, we know we need to go further. That’s why today, we’re committing to reducing the city’s food-based emissions at agencies by 33 percent by 2030 and challenging our private sector partners to join us by cutting their food emissions by 25 percent in the same time period. The way we eat impacts everything, and now we’re going to do more to impact everything for the better.”

“NYC Health + Hospitals is on track to serve more than three-quarters of a million plant-based meals over this calendar year. This offers alignment with the city’s strategy around Lifestyle Medicine, but also has significant implications for planetary health as well, with food being the third largest contributor to climate emissions across the city,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “Today’s announcement demonstrates the thoughtful and integrated approach the city is taking to bring healthy food to every person that might eat a meal as a patient in one of our public hospitals and how we are working to preserve and defend the environment for every New Yorker.”

New York City has measured citywide emissions since 2005, but this is the first time the city has included emissions from household consumption. These emissions were modelled by EcoDataLab as part of an ongoing project coordinated by C40 that is working with cities to identify urban consumption indicators for data-driven climate action and measurement. The new inventory shows that 20 percent of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions come from household food consumption — primarily from meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.

This means New Yorkers can significantly reduce the city’s emissions by eating more low-carbon food, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. The integrated inventory can be found on the MOCEJ website.

New York City’s public hospitals and schools are leading the way. By serving plant-based meals as the default option and enhancing patients’ food experience, NYC Health + Hospitals is on track to serve 850,000 plant-based meals this year — reducing its food-based carbon emissions by 36 percent as of February 2023 while reducing the public health burden of diet-related disease. The city also introduced Plant-Powered Fridays in its public schools last year, emphasizing the central role that healthy, low-carbon options must have on individuals’ plates and inspiring future generations to lead the charge in creating a more just and sustainable food system.

In addition to committing to reducing the city’s carbon emissions from food purchases from city agencies by 33 percent by 2030, Mayor Adams today launched the Plant-Powered Carbon Challenge, urging private, institutional, and nonprofit sector leaders to reduce their food-based emissions by 25 percent by 2030. MOFP — in partnership with the companies Coolfood and Greener by Default — will support participants in measuring and reducing the carbon footprint of their existing procurement practices.

Last year, Mayor Adams updated the city’s Food Standards, which translate the latest research on health and nutrition into guidelines for food served by the city — aligning public health and climate goals. The city was recognised by signatories to the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact for its work incorporating “Good Food Purchasing” program values in its food procurement. The Good Food Purchasing program encourages large institutions to use their buying power to support five core values: local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare, and nutrition. The city is integrating these values into agency food spending, which will ensure that city funds spent on food support individual, community, and planetary health.   

New York City is a national and global leader in climate initiatives related to food and is poised to serve as a model for other cities. In 2022, Mayor Adams announced that the city had signed onto the “C40 Good Food Cities Declaration” — joining London and 13 other cities around the world delivering on the same pledge — to increase access to plant-forward and nutritious food for city residents and halve their city’s respective food waste. C40 is a network of nearly 100 mayors from the world’s leading cities working to deliver urgent, local action to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone can thrive. 

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