Green business is good business, according to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a speech Tuesday in Gaston Hall.

The lecture, sponsored by the Center for the Environment, the Science, Technology, and International Affairs Program and Newsweek, kicked off Newsweek’s Second Annual Global Environment Leadership Conference. The conference included a panel on profitability via sustainability and a discussion on politics, advocacy and the environment.

“The fact is that we can actually improve our environment while growing our economy,” Bloomberg said. “It’s going to require leadership in the public and private sectors and change in our public and private lives.”

Green business reduces energy consumption, lowers energy costs and helps recruit and retain employees, he said.

Bloomberg cited “PlaNYC,” his action strategy unveiled last Earth Day, as an example of positive steps government and businesses can take in improving the environment and making cities more energy efficient.

“It started from the assumption that New York City’s population will grow to more than nine million people by the year 2030,” Bloomberg said. “We’re very positive about that outlook, because population growth means economic growth.”

One of Bloomberg’s main concerns for PlaNYC is decreasing New York City’s greenhouse gas production by 30 percent.

“We know that cars and trucks account for roughly 20 percent of greenhouse gas production in our city,” he said. “We’re turning the nation’s largest fleet of yellow cabs green by 2012, by requiring that they be hybrids or hybrid equivalents.”

Other plans for making New York City more environmentally friendly include public-private partnerships to make 900,000 buildings in the city more energy efficient and doubling the production and use of solar power by this time next year.

In order to “stay ahead of the curve,” New York City will have to rebuild its infrastructure to deliver water and energy, enlarge its park system and expand the mass transit system, the mayor said.

“PlaNYC is about managing and sustaining growth,” Bloomberg said.

Taking the initiative in going green is a test of America’s leadership, added Bloomberg, who framed environmental issues as both domestic and foreign concerns.

“Climate change is a foreign policy issue, because our dependence on foreign oil entangles our interest with tyrants . and increases our exposure to terrorism. It’s an economic imperative, because clean energy is going to be the oil gusher of the 21st century.”

Bloomberg outlined four problems that must be tackled to halt environmental deterioration: increasing energy research and development, stopping subsidizing corn-based ethanol, requiring energy efficient cars and trucks and treating carbon emissions.

“We may not know now precisely how much our human activity is contributing to climate change, but we can’t afford to wait to find out,” he said. “The time to act is now.”

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