New York City spending billions in climate change preparation

CCTV News

Rainstorms over Manhattan

Scientists warn that if the rate of greenhouse gas emissions continues, the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet could result in sea levels rising 3 feet (1 meter) by end of this century – threatening coastal, low-lying cities around the world, like New York.

CCTV America’s Liling Tan had a look at how the Big Apple is outspending all other major cities to brace for the worst.

New York City spending billions in climate change preparation

New York City spending billions in climate change preparation

Scientists warn that if the rate of greenhouse gas emissions continues, the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet could result in sea levels rising 3 feet (1 meter) by end of this century - threatening coastal, low-lying cities around the world, like New York.

For residents of New York City, banked by the East and Hudson Rivers on either side, and the New York Harbor to the south, rising sea levels spell big trouble. The devastation from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was a wake-up call.

Seth Pinsky, who was tasked by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to create strategies for New York to adapt to extreme weather, says it’s imperative the city protect itself, and prepare for changing tides.

According to the U.K.’s University College London, New York spent $2.2 billion in preparation for climate change last year. More than any other city in the world.

That’s a fraction of what the city expects to spend over the next few decades. With expectations of more frequent and intense rainy days, heat waves and flooding – New York is bracing for some rather bleak long-term weather changes.

Plans in play include a $19.5 billion dollar storm protection strategy involving tidal gates, beachfront walls, and retrofitting buildings to withstand extreme weather events. There is also a goal to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

But some critics say these measures aren’t nearly enough.

“While the city is, yes, spending quite a bit of money, into the billions of dollars, it is still preoccupied with short to mid-term solutions. Fifty years, eight years at most. But as time progresses and sea level keeps rising… we will have to move certain populations out of certain areas and that is an issue we have not yet addressed.” said Klaus Jacob, Special Research Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Cities worldwide world face many of the same risks. Which is why global leaders are travelled to New York to sign a landmark Paris Agreement to take on climate change, and prepare for a future that could look very different from today.