Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently released the results of a carbon inventory that revealed New York City is responsible for almost 1% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, as much as the entire nation of Ireland.
The buried lede to the story is that New York City is home to almost 3% of the nation’s population. Per capita carbon emissions in the city are less than a third of the national average, thanks mostly to the subway system.
Bloomberg wants to get the number down futher. He’s pledged to reduce carbon emissions 30% by 2030, and on Earth Day he announced 127 (!) initiatives to help meet that goal. The most eye-catching — and sure to be most controversial — is a proposal for congestion pricing that imposes an $8 charge on passenger vehicles driving through downtown Manhattan during weekdays.
The proposal is patterned after a scheme in London that also met with strong resistance initially but eventually proved successful. The London plan is now meeting renewed resistance as the the city government there seeks to expand it. Whatever the ostensible benefits, people hate paying road tolls.
Nevertheless, congestion pricing is a good idea, and if it is successful in New York it may spread to other U.S. cities. As a New York resident, I hope this proposal passes, and leads to the implementation of one of my other favorite ideas for improving New York City: turning a number of the cross-town streets into pedestrian walkways.