Expert Panel on Climate Change and Carbon Pricing
NYU has cut carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2006 and seeks to be carbon independent by 2040
Environmentally-conscious reforms do not equate to inconvenience
UNEP 2018 Emissions Gap Report notes unsustainable production patterns
UNEP assists developing nations towards sustainability goals
The UN Initiative and Citizens’ Climate Lobby Chapter at NYU hosted an Expert Panel on Climate Change and Carbon Pricing. The speakers included Cecil Scheib, NYU’s Assistant Vice President for Sustainability, and Jamil Ahmed, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Director for New York Office and Intergovernmental Affairs. The event was held in 726 Broadway on Nov. 28 at 7pm. The panel discussed promises and progress made towards environmental sustainability in NYU and the international community.
Scheib outlined NYU’s Sustainability Mission which includes achieving carbon independence by 2040. Much of this progress will include updating buildings on campus.
Around 60 percent of NYU buildings are over 50 years old, which presents obstacles to sustainability. But Schieb explained that NYU’s carbon emissions have been reduced by 30 percent since 2006. Currently, over 2 million square feet of NYU property has LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
Brittany Hall, originally built in 1929, previously used oil boilers. Since then, NYU has invested in renovations resulting in a 43 percent reduction in carbon emissions. Scheib stressed that environmentally-friendly reforms do not come with inconveniences, noting that renovations have brought about a 49 percent reduction in operating costs and the addition of air conditioning.
Transitioning to national politics, Scheib mentioned the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act — a bipartisan bill that proposes a 40 dollar-per- ton carbon tax. Under the proposed legislation, the government will return the money from the tax in a dividend to American citizens on a monthly basis. Scheib said he believes the carbon tax is important as it applies to a handful of fossil fuel companies as opposed to the entire population.
Jamil Ahmed explained the UNEP’s recent Emission Gap Report. The report details the gaps between the reduction in carbon emissions promised by governments and the actual progress made, concluding that current production patterns are unsustainable. Global temperatures may rise by 3.4% in this century, which would defeat the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit temperature increases by two percent.
Much of the UNEP’s efforts focus on empowering developing nations that are unable to implement environmental reforms. For that reason, the headquarters of the organization is located in Nairobi, Kenya. Asked about the viability of a global carbon tax, Ahmed argued that taxing underdeveloped countries would disempower them from becoming sustainable. According to Ahmed, much of the progress made in developing countries — such as green energy parks in Kenya, Morocco, and Afghanistan — has gone undiscussed.
This report was compiled by Danny Hegberg on Dec. 4, 2018, and edited by Jamin Chen.