NEW YORK (Reuters) - Recession-stricken New York City plans to double its current green work force by creating over 13,000 new jobs in the next decade, partly by competing with London to become the new center for carbon trading, a city official said on Wednesday.
London, whose prominence as a financial capital rivals New York City and Tokyo, got an early lock in trading pollution credits by training lawyers, accountants and other experts "before the market even existed," Seth Pinsky, president of the Economic Development Corporation, told Reuters.
New York City's new boot camp in green finance will be run by the State University of New York's Levin Institute. It will be open to laid-off workers or future entrepreneurs, much like an already "booming" incubator for financial start-ups, Pinsky said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made his first fortune as a Wall Street bond trader before getting into politics, is expected to announce on Thursday this green job branch to his two-year-old PlaNYC program, which set ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gases, planting 1 million trees and crowning skyscrapers with wind turbines.
The mayor's $7.5 million green jobs plan will call on Columbia University to help offer public school pupils "hands-on" learning in energy efficiency, according to Bloomberg, who is running as an independent candidate for a third term. His plan also will create an Urban Technology Innovation Center to tap academic research. Existing city and state funds and federal stimulus dollars will pay for it.
HARNESSING THE WIND AND RAYS
New York City residents and businesses spend about $15 billion a year on energy -- one of the biggest U.S. markets. The city will capitalize on its breezy coastlines by installing wind turbines at Hunts Point in The Bronx, for example, instead of beginning with the rooftop windmills critics said might prove unsafe. Solar projects are planned for the Brooklyn Army Terminal, which would produce enough power for 100 households for a year. More solar projects are planned in Long Island City.
The city is already testing turbines in the Hudson River off Roosevelt Island to take advantage of strong local tides.
New York City has 5 billion square feet of building stock -- more than any peer -- and building codes will be overhauled to encourage owners to add energy saving and other green technologies. Developers and building owners will be able to share their experiences at the new technology center.
Many U.S. cities and states also have green agendas and some seem to be following in Bloomberg's footsteps. New York City was the first large city to use energy-saving traffic lights, Pinsky's spokesman said.
Houston's Mayor Bill White, a Democrat, said on Wednesday that over half of his city's 2,425 traffic signals now have LED lights, which will save $190,626 a year.
Bloomberg has already launched an incubator for media entrepreneurs.
Fashion, bioscience and higher education are next.
"We've got great schools, but they tended in the past to be Ivory Tower places, which don't really connect with the real economy," Pinsky said. "We're trying to make that connection."
Europe's cap-and-trade program to cut greenhouse-gas emissions is more advanced than anything in this country. New York and nine of its Northeast neighbors already have a cap-and-trade market, but President Barack Obama's plan is still winding through Congress.
By Joan Gralla