Percent for Climate, a proposal for NYC

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Our idea is to duplicate existing Percent for Art programs, which are currently part of the City’s budget process and the MTA’s budget process, and create a Percent for Climate program, which would utilize NYC’s tremendous cultural base for climate education.

The goal is to help New Yorkers understand and join in achieving the Paris Agreement timeline, reducing emissions by half every ten years, as shown by the C40 Cities “Deadline 2020” report

This new funding mechanism can create public outreach at scale. Deliberative workshops for New Yorkers about the future of the city are one type of program that could be piloted and scaled up. Parallels are discussed below:

Cultural and educational institutions in New York can partner with Percent for Climate to share the message about our transition to a low carbon city. The future of the institutions within the city is tied to the health of the city itself. 

We think this could be a powerful step towards addressing climate change through citizen education, which will begin to give politicians social permission for greater action. 

New York City has a $1.3 trillion economy, and a population almost as large as Sweden. 

As New Yorkers become global leaders in shifting to low carbon lifestyles, the benefits will be felt by people everywhere on the planet, because New York is one of the most financially and culturally influential cities in the world. New York can be a crucial global leader, simply by meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement as shown by the C40 Cities group.

Compared to a ‘business as usual’ scenario, expanding communications, and achieving low emission policies, are far less costly choices and much more realistic than attempts at adapting to impacts from a high emission pathway.

One small step, creating a Percent for Climate program in New York City, could be a game changer, one that triggers a broader push to decarbonize the world at the rates necessary to achieve the Paris Agreement. The global benefits for people at risk around the world are enormous. Protecting New York simultaneously protects billions of people in vulnerable nations.

We are gathering support from climate experts who would like to participate: 

Eric Holthaus, the widely-followed writer and meteorologist, says: 

“I’d *love* to be involved in something like this. For NYC, or for anywhere.”

In conclusion: Percent for Climate would structurally guide the City to providing climate information, education and workshops, in proportion to the size of the city itself, in the same way Percent for Art provides ongoing public art funding. Social stability improves when people have a place to bring their fears and address them as a group, seeking the most rational solutions from among our options. The training from workshops would also provide preparation in advance of extreme events, allowing for a safer and more coordinated response. 

Let’s take this step, and help New York City, full of some of the brightest, most vibrant people on the planet, begin to teach itself about climate change, the challenge that matters most to our future.


Richard Reiss | |