Mayors across the U.S. have joined together in The United States Conference of Mayors/Climate Protection Center to share knowledge and policy strategy for mitigation and adaptation of climate change. Bill de Blasio has a unique opportunity to become a powerful national leader in mitigating climate change through bringing much needed reform to our dysfunctional agriculture system.
"Today it is estimated that nearly 1/3 of green house gas emissions come from pollution caused by the production, processing and transportation of food. In collaboration with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, I have sponsored the first City Council resolution ever that addresses climate change through our food system. This resolution calls for a citywide initiative to increase the use of locally grown, healthy food and decrease the amount of pollution caused by food transportation, shipping and packaging."
In 2009, New York City councilman Bill de Blasio had already connected the dots between climate change and our dysfunctional food system. He co-sponsored along with Scott Stringer, The Resolution to Reduce NYC's Climate "Foodprint."
Writing in Civil Eats, Mia McDonald, executive director of Brighter Green, reminds us of de Blasio's commitment to a "city-wide initiative that would establish climate-friendly food policies and programs, financial and technical support, a public awareness campaign regarding the city’s food consumption and production patterns and greater access to local, fresh, healthy food."
The resolution shows de Blasio's depth of knowledge regarding the agriculture sector's contribution to climate change. Come below the fold to see how unusual and impressive it is to hear a politician who actually understands the massive impact of livestock production on greenhouse gas emissions.
From the resolution:
Whereas, According to the Agricultural Role on Greenhouse
Gas Mitigation Report, conducted by the Pew Center on Climate Control, it is
estimated that globally one-third of all GHG emissions comes from
agriculture and land use changes, and that
approximately 12% of the total GHG emissions per U.S. household result from growing, packing, preparing and shipping food nationwide; and
Whereas, The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization calculated that production of plant-based foods (whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds) contributes significantly less to global warming than production of animal-based foods, and that, globally, livestock operations emit 18% of total GHGs, significantly more than the 13.1% emitted by the world's entire transportation sector[.]
In 2009, the New York Times took note of de Blasio's advocacy for sustainable food:
A similar bill calling for the creation of a FoodprintNYC has been proposed by Bill de Blasio, a Brooklyn councilman who is running for public advocate. The bill would encourage the city’s various agencies to coordinate and establish climate-friendly food policies and programs, as well as a public awareness campaign about the health and environmental impact of food. It draws heavily from recommendations in a report, “Food in the Public Interest,” by the office of the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer.
Mr. de Blasio said his vision was that everything from the Board of Education to the Housing Authority to the health department would focus on sustainable food — whether it worked through purchasing decisions or building green roofs on city buildings.
When Bill de Blasio was elected mayor of NYC, I was elated for the people of New York City for ending 21 years of Republican mayoral dominance and for electing a self described "unapologetic progressive." Now I am elated for all the rest of us, too. Mayor-elect de Blasio has a national megaphone which can be used to influence policy in other cities and even nationally.
The massive contribution (pdf) of agriculture, especially livestock production, to climate change, makes it the low-hanging fruit of climate change mitigation. [See Livestock and Climate Change from WorldWatch.org]. Mayors across the U.S. have joined together in The United States Conference of Mayors/Climate Protection Center to share knowledge and policy strategy for mitigation and adaptation of climate change. Bill de Blasio has a unique opportunity to become a powerful national leader in mitigating climate change through bringing much needed reform to our dysfunctional agriculture system. The benefits are immense not only to New York City but to the U.S. in addressing our massive public health issues and to mitigating the worst effects of climate change.