By Valerie Volcovici
(Reuters) - New York City's greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 19 percent since 2005, outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday, putting the city nearly two-thirds of the way to meeting the goal that Bloomberg set five years ago.
Bloomberg announced the progress report as he prepares to leave the mayor's office on Wednesday after 12 years in office.
In the comprehensive climate change blueprint he launched in 2007, called PlaNYC 2030, Bloomberg set a goal to slash citywide emissions 30 percent by 2030 through a number of initiatives, such as requiring hybrid taxi cabs and retrofitting municipal buildings to make them more energy efficient.
Sergej Mahnovski, director of the city's office of long-term planning and sustainability, said on Monday that New York's air is the cleanest it has been in 50 years and that the city is on track to make even deeper emissions cuts.
"The key message is that local governments can work together with utilities, regulators, environmental partners, developers and communities to test-bed new concepts and sharply reduce emissions with state-of-the art analytics, financial products and technical resources," he said.
Bloomberg has taken a high-profile stance on combating climate change that went beyond the city limits. He has been a strong advocate for national climate change legislation and leader of an international group of mayors dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In the wake of Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, Bloomberg made an unexpected endorsement of President Barack Obama for re-election, who he felt would take stronger action against climate change than Republican opponent Mitt Romney.
The toll Superstorm Sandy took on New York also led Bloomberg to announce a $20 billion plan in June to prepare the city for rising sea levels and hotter summers.
The plan included 250 recommendations, ranging from the installation of floodwalls and storm barriers to upgrades of power and telecommunications infrastructures.
Bloomberg told reporters earlier this month that he will continue to focus on promoting climate action in his private life through his philanthropic work.
He said climate change remains one of his key causes, in addition to gun control and immigration.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Leslie Adler)