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New York City's mayor wants to turn the city green

On Earth Day, Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced a plan for more green spaces, fees to drive in Manhattan, and improved mass transit.

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Worldwide, New York is known as the Big Apple, but if Mayor Michael Bloomberg gets his way, it will become the Green Apple.

Under his vision for the city, there will be a park within a ten-minute walk of all residents. A million new trees will shade streets and filter out carbon dioxide. Anyone driving on those streets will have to pay extra if it's in congested Manhattan. And there will be new subways and buses, so New Yorkers won't mind taking mass transit.

Those are just some of the changes introduced Sunday, on Earth Day, by Mr. Bloomberg. His goal is to reduce the city's greenhouse-gas emissions 30 percent by 2030. He wants his town to have the cleanest air, the purest water, and the best land-use practices. The mayor's ambitious program of 127 separate initiatives has more than local ramifications, because New York represents 1 percent of total US greenhouse-gas emissions.

Experts in sustainability are enthusiastic about Bloomberg's initiative. They say it's easier to make changes at a metro scale than at a national scale. Plus, cities are where the most waste is produced and the most energy is consumed.

"Getting the urban puzzle right is the challenge of the next 25 years because, between now and 2030, the number of people living in urban areas will double," says Chuck Redman, director of the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University in Tempe.

For Bloomberg, getting his agenda approved won't be easy, in large part because many of the elements require approval of state lawmakers and the governor. At a press briefing Saturday, city hall officials say they have yet to approach the Empire State's new Democratic governor, Eliot Spitzer, or the state legislature. Last week, Mr. Spitzer introduced a far more modest plan to reduce the state's electrical demand 15 percent by 2015.


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