Helping New York Face Climate Problems of the Future


Good morning. It’s Thursday. Today we will meet the new chief executive of the New York Climate Exchange, who describes it as “part think tank, part do tank.” We’ll also find out about Ivanka Trump’s day on the witness stand.

Several months ago, the city chose a consortium led by Stony Brook University to set up something called the New York Climate Exchange. Officials said the exchange would lead research into climate solutions and training for green jobs.

Now the exchange is getting a chief executive — Stephen Hammer, a climate adviser at the World Bank. He will start next month.

Hammer told me that he expects the exchange — which counts 14 academic and corporate organizations and 30 community entities as partners — to function as “part think tank, part do tank.” It will serve as a “training ground for thought leaders of tomorrow,” he said, but it is also intended to bring a sense of urgency to environmental issues that could help the city get ahead of potential problems like the Canadian wildfires last summer.

But Hammer told me that he had not yet picked a particular set of issues to concentrate on. “We’ve got partners,” he said. “What I want to be spending the first part of my time on the job on is understanding what are these partners focused on, what are they bringing to the table, what are the challenges. And then we’re going to come up with a game plan.”

Hammer’s résumé includes being a co-founder and co-director of the Urban Climate Change Research Network, an international consortium of researchers, and serving on an energy policy task force when Michael Bloomberg was mayor that advised City Hall on PlaNYC, a long-term effort to move toward a sustainable environmental future.

But he is bringing his own lived experience to the job. “You know, I lived in New York for over 25 years before I went to the bank,” he said, referring to the World Bank, in Washington. “One of the things that really struck me this year was, of all the climate impacts that I was anticipating that a place like New York was ever going to face, dealing with smoke from fires 1,500 miles or 2,000 miles away had never been on my radar screen.”

When the smoke from the wildfires pushed across New York — driving the concentration of pollutants in the air to some of the highest levels ever recorded — he was in the Adirondacks. “It was orange sky and smoky conditions,” he said, and he “worried about my daughter’s wedding” a couple of months later. (The weather cooperated when the time came: “We had a lovely day,” he said.)

But he said the smoke pointed to “planning we need to be doing,” including how health care systems need to adapt to air pollution hazards, as well as mold conditions in neighborhoods vulnerable to persistent flooding as heavy storms become more frequent.

The city announced the creation of the exchange in April, a week after Mayor Eric Adams announced a long-term environmental plan that, among other things, called for buying out residents whose homes are in particularly flood-prone areas as well as “large clusters of chargers” for electric cars on major transportation corridors across the city.

Hammer will work out of temporary quarters on Governors Island while a $700 million campus is built there. Officials said in April that it would include two new classroom and research buildings on three acres of land that are undeveloped.


Expect a mostly cloudy day, with a slight chance of rain, and temperatures reaching the upper 60s. In the evening, the clouds will remain and temperatures will dip into the mid 50s.


In effect until Nov. 10 (Veterans Day — observed).

She was cool, calm and controlled.

Ivanka Trump was the fourth member of her family to testify in the civil fraud case brought by the New York attorney general. My colleagues Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess write that she was questioned for several hours about the net worth of her father, Donald Trump — which the attorney general, Letitia James, says he inflated to get more favorable terms on loans from banks.

The last time Ivanka Trump testified about her father — before a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — it was a major embarrassment for the former president. In that appearance, she acknowledged that he had lost the 2020 election, prompting him to lash out at her for having “checked out” in the final days of his administration.

Her testimony on Wednesday was her first appearance at a trial that threatens the future of the family business she once helped guide. She had been seen as the heir apparent to that business until she followed her father to the White House after he became president in January 2017.

After he lost the election in 2020, she sought to distance herself from the company — and her father’s legal problems, which now include four criminal indictments. She also hired her own lawyer, separate from the legal team representing her family in the fraud case. Like her father and brothers, she was initially a defendant in that case, but an appeals court dismissed the case against her.

In contrast to her father, who lashed out at James and at the judge’s clerk, she was soft-spoken. Her testimony marked a surprisingly low-drama conclusion to the state’s case. She was the last in a parade of witnesses, 25 in 25 days, called to shed light on the financial statements that are at the heart of the trial.

While some evidence suggested that she had dealt directly with her father’s annual financial statements, which listed the value of his assets, she said that her focus had been elsewhere.

“I would assume he would have personal financial statements,” she said, adding, “Those weren’t things that I was privy to.”

She played a role in arranging some of the Trump Organization’s relationships with lenders — particularly with Deutsche Bank. At one point, the attorney general’s team asked about a 2011 email in which she told a Trump Organization colleague that the favorable terms of a deal would be possible only if they could be backed by a guarantee about Donald Trump’s net worth.

But when she was questioned about his annual financial statements, she said little. At one point, she was questioned about a meeting with a government agency that was evaluating her company’s bid to develop the Old Post Office, a federal building in Washington that became the Trump International Hotel.

“I don’t recall them having discussed financial statements specifically,” she said. “The whole meeting was mainly about our vision for the project.”

Her brother Eric similarly disavowed knowledge of the financial statements. But while Eric Trump became irritated under questioning, she remained calm. Any pushback she delivered was delivered with a smile.


Dear Diary:

I was on the Q train standing next to a mother and her two children, a patient older brother of maybe 10 or 11 and his rambunctious younger sister, who was entertaining herself by hitting him.

“What did I just say?” their mother repeated each time the girl landed a blow, gaining all of us a minute’s peace.

Distracted for a few seconds, the girl turned to a tall, handsome stranger a few feet away.

“You look like Spider-Man,” she said, “like the actor who plays Spider-Man.”

He smiled.

“I’ll take it,” he said.

A few minutes later, the girl repeated herself.

“You look like Spider-Man!” she said, as if for the first time.

When the train stopped at 72nd Street, the man got off. But just before disappearing into the crowd, he turned back.

“You look like Wonder Woman,” he called back kindly.

— Elinor Lipman

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.


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