For us New Yorkers, this year’s hurricane season has been an unfortunate wake up call. It’s no secret that the effects of climate change are here in NYC. Our city has made progress on its sustainability goals, but there’s still work to be done. Though your individual actions may seem relatively small, your personal decisions to help the planet — like going solar, for example — have a huge impact on your community and on the city as a whole.

How is climate change affecting NYC?

Scenes from across the city were unforgettable: waterfalls in subway stations, cars abandoned on major expressways, food delivery workers wading through waist-deep water.

In just the last few months, Hurricanes Elsa, Henri, and Ida all brought loss and destruction to New York City. Most recently, Hurricanes Henri and Ida brought record-breaking rainfall almost back-to-back, causing historic flooding and storm surge throughout the boroughs.

Cars abandoned on the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx following a night of heavy wind and rain from Hurricane Ida. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Cars abandoned on the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx following a night of heavy wind and rain from Hurricane Ida. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Increasing Temperatures and Severe Weather

Experts have long predicted increased frequency and severity of natural disasters as a consequence of human-induced climate change. That’s exactly what we’re seeing now in NYC. Simply put, warmer air holds more moisture than cool air and therefore produces greater amounts of rainfall and storm surge. 

Beyond hurricane season, scientists are also concerned with the Heat Island Effect when it comes to climate change in NYC. As greenhouse gasses get trapped in the atmosphere and warm the planet, densely-populated areas covered in asphalt and concrete will experience much hotter temperatures than less populated areas with more plant life and bodies of water nearby. 

This also means that not all New Yorkers will experience climate change the same way. Lower income communities frequently lack the infrastructure to handle the storm surge we’ve seen recently. Some communities also lack the plant life in large parks and tree-lined streets that more affluent areas have.

It goes without saying: if climate change goes unchecked, we can only expect these weather conditions in our city to get worse in the near future.

How is NYC responding to the effects of climate change?

You might’ve seen the news this past August. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that based on current trends, the global temperature will increase or exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius over just the next 20 years. Unless there are immediate, large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will be beyond our reach.

But we’ve known this for a while: this year’s IPCC report was an update on a report from 2018, which identified 1.5 degrees Celsius as the critical threshold for limiting global warming. And as a result of this initial report, the City released a plan outlining its commitment to becoming 100% carbon neutral by 2050.

NYC’s Sustainability Plan

If this goal seems ambitious, that’s because it is. An analysis of the plan determined that it will require bold, immediate changes to our city’s policies, infrastructure, and ways of life. But it’s not impossible. This plan depends on large-scale adoption of electric heating and vehicles, low-carbon fuels, and — you guessed it — clean energy sources like wind and solar.

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NYC is making progress toward its sustainability and carbon neutrality goals. Credit

In fact, the City has already made progress and continues expanding its initiatives to meet this goal. Mayor DeBlasio recently announced a residential energy efficiency program called ElectrifyNYC, and an expansion of the Carbon Challenge. Governor Hochul also announced plans to bring wind, solar, and hydropower generated Upstate to NYC.

We’re grateful that our city and state are taking these bold steps toward a clean energy future. But there’s still work to be done.

What can individuals do to make an impact?

If the climate crisis feels overwhelming to you, you’re not alone. For many of us, it feels like any steps we take toward sustainability have a minimal impact on the world. It’s true that governments and large corporations hold the most wide-reaching power in this crisis. But we want you to know that your personal decisions matter. 

Sustainability and the Ripple Effect

Your individual decision to purchase an electric vehicle, eat less meat, or switch to clean energy may seem relatively small. But sustainable lifestyle changes have a ripple effect. That means that your decision to go solar, for example, can play a part in motivating your family, friends, and neighbors to do the same. 

We’ve heard from many of our customers that going solar also made them reconsider their waste production and daily commutes. This increased awareness deepens citizens’ sense of identity as climate advocates.

A landmarked neighborhood in NYC with rooftop solar systems.
Your decision to go solar can have a ripple effect on your community.

We highly recommend solar as a way to make an impact on your community. Clean energy, and solar in particular, has many benefits. Not only does it reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels, it’s also incredibly cost-effective: solar is currently the cheapest form of electricity in history, and the cost of renewables continues to fall.

If you’re a homeowner in NYC, making the switch to solar is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint and make a positive impact on your community. For this reason, we believe it’s important that solar is accessible for all New Yorkers. That’s why our mission is to make solar possible for the flat roofs and the historic homes unique to NYC.

We don’t need to tell you that it’s time to take action against climate change. One of the best ways to make an impact in NYC is to making the switch to clean energy. Though it may seem like your individual decisions are insignificant, we’re here to tell you that they matter. Your household’s decision to go solar brings NYC one step further in the climate change fight. And it inspires members of your community to do the same. 

Mitigating the effects of climate change will take large-scale, collective action…so why not start now?

Schedule your free consultation with us to learn how solar can become a reality for your NYC home.