By Jenna Tipaldo
When one thinks about transformative climate action in New York City, the City Comptroller may not be the first person to come to mind as a key player. Brad Lander wants to change that — he wants to bring his background and passion for climate action to this role with a creative vision of how the Comptroller can help achieve climate justice and a Green New Deal in our city.
Lander has a strong track record on environmental justice issues. After moving to NYC in 1993, he directed the Fifth Avenue Committee and then the Pratt Center for Community Development, organizations that focus on economic/social justice and sustainability. Brad was elected to City Council in 2009 to serve the 39th Council District, which encompasses parts of Brooklyn such as Kensington, Windsor Terrace, Park Slope and Gowanus. As a council member, he fought for environmental policies like the landmark climate legislation Local Law 97 and the Climate Mobilization Act, a city-wide styrofoam ban and ban on plastic bags, as well as for reform of the city’s Commercial Waste industry to create zones that would reduce emissions and pollution while improving safety measures for workers and residents. Brad’s work on the Council also demonstrates his commitment to democracy and social justice — he created the Council’s Progressive Caucus and worked to bring participatory budgeting to NYC, create affordable housing, and protect tenants and workers. Lander has an understanding of how city government works and has forward-thinking ideas about how current systems can be utilized, transformed, and expanded to help meet the scale of the climate crisis.
In NYC, the Comptroller has many important duties that help the city function efficiently. Lander sees this role as an opportunity to help ensure the implementation of policies that address social, economic, and climate justice. “I am running for NYC Comptroller to bring the tools of the office to that essential and transformational work, to ensure that we are budgeting wisely, investing strategically, governing democratically, and living up to our commitments to each other and to future generations,” he said.
Some of the roles of the Comptroller include conducting audits of city agencies, enforcing wages, reviewing and registering city contracts, reviewing and making recommendations regarding the annual city budget, and acting as a fiduciary to the city’s five pension funds. New York City is currently in the process of divesting its pension funds from fossil fuel companies, so it is important that our next Comptroller carry this momentum to complete the process, as Lander pledges to do.
As Comptroller, Lander will begin his work with environmental justice audits of city agencies and services “to confront the ways that many of our city’s decisions detrimentally and unfairly impact Black, brown, and immigrant neighborhoods.” With the creation of a new “Sustainability & Environmental Justice Audits” team, audits will hold both the public and private sectors accountable to the city’s goals for clean energy and resiliency. He will also lead an assessment of how climate change poses financial risks to NYC, providing data and insight to help inform policy and spending decisions. Brad plans to use his powers as Comptroller to make the financial case for spending and policies regarding issues related to environmental and climate justice.
Lander is bringing some other new ideas to the table as well. He plans to evaluate and report on climate risks and the status of adaptation projects, allowing the city to be held accountable for preventing and preparing for the worst impacts of climate change by developing a public dashboard. He will also explore the idea of creating a Voluntary Flood-Zone Buy-Back Fund, which would allow residents of low-lying coastal areas to relocate before the next climate disaster. He is also proposing a first-of its-kind investment in publicly-owned rooftop solar, financed by green city bonds to rapidly scale up green energy in NYC.
Sunrise NYC is excited to endorse Brad Lander for NYC Comptroller. Because of his track record and vision on environmental and social justice issues, we are confident that Brad Lander will help create a sustainable and just city in this role. Get involved in his campaign at landerfornyc.com