COMPLETE VIDEO: 186th CityLaw Breakfast with DEP Commissioner Rohit Aggarwala, Today 4/18 at 9 AM

DEP Commissioner Rohit Aggarwala speaks at the 186th CityLaw Breakfast. Image Credit: New York Law School.

Today, April 18, 2023, DEP Commissioner Rohit Aggarwala spoke at the 186th CityLaw Breakfast. Commissioner Aggarwala spoke on “What Should Earth Day Mean for NYC?” Professor Ross Sandler, Director of the Center for New York City Law, delivered opening remarks. Dean and President of New York Law School Anthony W. Crowell joined for a closing discussion. This breakfast was sponsored by ConEdison, Verizon, and Greenberg Traurig LLP.

Commissioner Aggarwala began by discussing concerning changes in weather around the world that are tangibly connected to climate change. As climate change prediction models tend to be more conservative, Commissioner Aggarwala believes we need to focus on the more extreme ends of these forecasts and models.

Commissioner Aggarwala discussed excessive heat and rainfall. Excessive heat is part of a larger public health issue with great inequities, as more people die from excessive heat than flooding, but the people who do die from excessive heat tend to be from vulnerable populations – mainly people who are both elderly and poor, and many of whom are people of color. Excessive rainfall is also a growing concern in New York City, as shifting weather patterns indicate a more tropical climate that is susceptible to sudden heavy bursts of rain. According to Aggarwala, the City’s sewer system is generally capable of holding 1.75 inches of rainfall per hour, an amount the city historically had never cleared. In 2021, however, the city first received 1.91 inches per hour in rainfall and then shortly thereafter received a record-breaking 3.75 inches of rain per hour from Hurricane Ida, which can easily overwhelm the sewer system.

Commissioner Aggarwala praised the city’s water system, and credited it to decades of efforts and investments in maintaining and upgrading the system.

Commissioner Aggarwala also discussed past climate and sustainability plans and how it was important for whoever is mayor to embrace their role in shaping climate policy for the city. He discussed the city’s current efforts to decarbonize buildings, encourage the use of electric vehicles and public transportation, and changing our approaches to the collection of waste through the implementation of citywide curbside compost collecting.

Commissioner Aggarwala and Dean Crowell discussed the roles lawyers have in helping the city implement sustainability efforts, and how law school curriculums can be changed to better reflect the realities of implementing sustainability policies.

Commissioner Aggarwala ended his talk by acknowledging that addressing environmental challenges takes commitment and discipline and is going to require us to rethink the ways we handle building, our food, and how we operate.

To watch this breakfast, click here or watch below:








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