President Donald Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner apparently own buildings that are part of the 2 percent of properties responsible for half of New York City’s carbon dioxide pollution.
HuffPost reports that the Kushner family’s 666 Fifth Avenue building, the Trump Tower, and the Trump International Hotel and Tower are part of the Big Apple’s infamous top polluters, using up to 760 kBtu (kilo British thermal units) combined per square foot.
The average energy use for an office building in the city is 186 kBtu.
Using public data on the buildings’ electrical use, researchers found that Kushner’s building was the top polluter, using 285 kBtu. Trump International Hotel and Tower came in second out of the three, using 267 kBtu, and Trump Tower in third, using 208 kBtu.
“It’s the Trumps and the Kushners that are polluting this city,” said Pete Sikora, the senior adviser for the activist group New York Communities for Change. “We’re not a factory town in New York City, but if we were, our smokestacks would be buildings like Trump Tower.”
Despite the high amount of fossil fuels burned by the president’s and his son-in-law’s buildings, they are not the only ones contributing to the city’s emissions. Other top offenders include 157 West 57th St., and 15 Central Park West, where Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein lives.
With Earth’s future in mind, environmental groups are calling New York City officials to come up with a plan that would cut emissions and energy use by 80 percent by 2050. That would mean that luxury buildings like the Trump Tower would have to be outfitted with new technology designed to conserve energy. New boilers, roofs, windows, and water heaters would have to be properly installed. But activists fear that the influence the real estate lobby has over the city is a difficult power to beat.
In 2013 alone, the Real Estate Board of New York’s super political action committee pledged to spend a staggering $10 million on local candidates. And between 2013 and 2014, the city’s top 10 landlords and developers donated at least $6.5 million.
Since 2000, New York state candidates and party committees saw $21 million in real estate dough filling their campaign bank accounts, making it hard for activists to compete with an industry that has literally bought local politicians.
Considering that the president and his son-in-law are the owners of some of the city’s top polluters, it’s hard to see anything changing anytime soon. But the fact that so many local politicians are also in the hands of the industry’s leaders shows that the concerned public would have to exert immense pressure to persuade politicians to act.