NEW YORK CITY HALL — New York City became the nation's largest city to declare a climate emergency on Wednesday, joining an international movement to address climate change.
The City Council approved a resolution declaring the emergency and calling for "an immediate emergency mobilization to restore a safe climate." More than 650 other local governments, from Hoboken to London, have adopted similar measures.
While the resolution doesn't compel the city to any specific action, lawmakers said it's important to call the global climate crisis what it is as others — including President Donald Trump — deny climate change.
"In that void it's up to local governments to take up the mantle of action on climate change," said Councilman Ben Kallos, a Manhattan Democrat who sponsored the resolution.
The resolution builds on the city's aggressive steps to curb emissions from buildings, a major source of pollution. That law, passed in April, was part of a package of measures that officials called the city's "Green New Deal."
The resolution lists many of the harms that climate change has already inflicted on the planet, from intensifying natural disasters to a major decline in the global wildlife population. It says a "sweeping transition" to clean energy is "vital to our future."
"New York City, as the largest city in the United States, can act as a global leader by both converting to an ecologically, socially, and economically regenerative economy at emergency speed, and by organizing a transition to renewable energy and climate emergency mobilization effort," the resolution reads.
The Council passed the resolution two days after activists demanded its approval on the steps of City Hall. More than 60 protesters were arrested in April at a demonstration pushing the city to declare a climate emergency.
The New York City chapter of the activist group Extinction Rebellion, which was behind that protest, has called the resolution "a vital first step toward confronting the hard truth of the climate crisis."
"We can't solve the problem if we don't call it like it is: a life or death emergency of unprecedented proportions," the group says on its website.