Jun 28, 2018

The big picture: Why so few buildings are responsible for so much pollution

Photo: Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

Of nearly a million buildings in New York City, just 2% are responsible for half of the city's building-related CO2 emissions. And, according to a new report released to the Huffington Post today by the Climate Works For All coalition, the biggest culprits are swanky luxury buildings, like those owned by the Trumps and Kushners.

The big picture: Buildings account for nearly 40% of climate emissions in the U.S., making them a prime target for improving their energy efficiency. And, with so few buildings accounting for such a large chunk of these emissions, that's exactly what a coalition of environmental groups in New York is trying to do. They're also hoping their efforts will help lay a roadmap for other cities.

Where it stands: The coalition laid out a plan for cutting CO2 emissions that is different from current policies in many cities.

  • Most cities deploy small retrofitting projects like lighting improvements to reduce climate emissions. But these low-cost policies don't make cuts large enough to meet big efficiency goals, like New York city council's, which mandates an 80% emissions reduction by 2050.
  • The coalition recommends a new approach: setting a standard for energy usage in buildings that slowly ratchets downward over time, so building owners and operators can adapt in ways that are most cost-effective for them.

Yes, but: This type of energy use standard policy hasn't been implemented in any cities yet, and Pete Sikora, a senior adviser for one of the groups authoring the study, told Axios that the New York real estate industry has a strong lobbying arm. "It is the 1600-pound gorilla of New York politics," he said.

  • It's also expensive. A study by the Urban Green Council estimated costs for cutting building emissions 90% by 2050, and found it would amount to about $94 billion. But that investment would pay off over time. Savings as a result of efficiency upgrades would total $87 billion, making it mostly cost-neutral.

What to watch: The report calls out real-estate magnates like the Trumps and Kushners who own the types of buildings that are generating climate pollution, which will impact coastal areas like New York in the future. Some of the biggest names:

  • Trump Tower and Trump International Hotel
  • The Kushner-owned building at 666 Fifth Ave
  • One57 on "Billionaires' Row"
  • The luxury building at 15 Central Park West

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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

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There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

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