Cuomo Wrong on Global Warming Limits, National carbon markets

Green Education and Legal Fund
Media Release

For Immediate Release: October 8, 2015
For More Info: Mark Dunlea, 518 860-3725

Cuomo Agrees to Industrial Nation’s Push for Higher Limits for Global Warming

His support for carbon markets has been rejected by the Pope, carbon tax is needed instead

Climate change activists said today’s announcement by Governor Cuomo on climate change was a step in the wrong direction on the two key points. And while they welcomed the call to expand solar on buildings, including at SUNY, they claim more ambitious goals are needed.

“On the two issues that the Governor highlighted – a two degree cap on global warming, and creating expanding markets for carbon – he is on the wrong side of history,” said Mark Dunlea of the Green Education and Legal Fund.

Gov. Cuomo joined with Al Gore today to sign a Memorandum of Understanding initiated by California Governor Brown in May 2015 to limit climate change to raising temperatures by only 2 degree Celsius. The big fight in Paris however is to reject this limit – favored by the US and other industrial countries – since it would be catastrophic especially for low-lying nations. Developing countries are lobbying to lower the target to 1.5 degrees. It is estimated that 200 million individuals will be directly harmed if this fight is lost.

Cuomo also said he would help create a national “market” for carbon, based on the state’s existing RGGI program. The Pope has rejected such markets as subject to Wall St. speculation and schemes. “The strategy of buying and selling “car­bon credits” can lead to a new form of specula­tion which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide. … In no way does it allow for the radi­cal change which present circumstances require. Rather, it may simply become a ploy which per­mits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors,” wrote the Pope in Laudato Si’, On Care For Our Common Home.

Most economists argue that the better approach would be a carbon tax. A bill (( A8372 Cahill / S6037 Parker) to set a carbon tax in NY at $35 a ton with an annual increase of $15 a ton until it rises to $180 is pending. Unlike cap-and-trade, carbon taxes don’t create complex and easily-gamed “carbon markets” with allowances, trading and offsets. One of the biggest obstacles to transitioning to clean energy is that the market prices of coal, oil and gas don’t include the true costs of carbon pollution. A carbon tax also encourages alternative energy by making it cost-competitive with cheaper fuels.

The Pope also warned people to be skeptical of the statements of the politicians; he added that the goals they set are often not followed through on. “It is remarkable how weak internation­al political responses have been. The alliance between the economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests. Consequently the most one can expect is super­ficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment,’ he added.

GELF has worked with more than a dozen state legislators to a bill calling for the state to adopt a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2030. GELF wants the state to use the NY Power Authority to finance the upfront costs to install solar on every building in NYS where it is feasible, with the state recovering the costs through lower electric costs. Cuomo wants to solarize 150,000 buildings within the next five years.

GELF also wants the state to fix the Green Jobs Green NY law passed in 2009 to energy retrofit up to 1 million homes. Opposition to implementation of the legislation has resulted in only about 5000 homes being retrofitted so far. The GJGNY advisory working group for low and moderate issues a report at the end of September representing a number of changes. GELF says the biggest problem however has been barriers imposed by the Cuomo administration.

Statement by Gov. Cuomo is here.

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Governor Cuomo, Joined By Vice President Gore, Announces New Actions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Lead Nation on Climate Change

Signs “Under 2 MOU” Reaffirming Pledge to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions 40% by 2030 And 80% by 2050

Directs State Agencies to Work with California and Other Jurisdictions to Develop a Broad North American Carbon Market

Commits To Bringing Solar to 150,000 Homes and Business and Installing Clean, Renewable Energy at Every SUNY Campus by 2020


Governor Cuomo, joined by Vice President Gore, announced four major actions to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across New York State. These nation-leading environmental and clean energy initiatives will help New York homes, businesses and universities invest in clean energy, drive economic growth across the state, and protect the environment.

“Climate change is an issue of society’s sustainability – and to deny that climate change is real is to deny reason,” Governor Cuomo said. “Today, New York is stepping up. We are demonstrating the leadership and focus that this issue demands. We are joining together and committing ourselves to tackling climate change and showing the nation what is possible. Now it is up to world leaders to follow suit.”

Former Vice President Al Gore, the subject of an Academy Award-winning documentary, a dedicated environmentalist and Nobel Prize winner, for decades has been a leading advocate in efforts to combat climate change and joined Governor Cuomo to announce these new actions.

“The leadership shown by Governor Cuomo and New York State to make bold emissions reductions commitments is vital to solving the climate crisis,” said Former Vice President Al Gore. “On the eve of the Paris climate negotiations, New York’s efforts to reduce emissions and join with others like California, Quebec, and Ontario to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy send a strong signal to world leaders: local, regional, and state governments are taking climate action now.”

Under 2 MOU

Governor Cuomo today signed the Under 2 MOU (Memorandum of Understanding), an agreement between states, provinces and cities worldwide to affirm their commitment to help keep the earth’s average temperature from increasing 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, as measured against pre-industrial levels. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined that global warming must be kept below 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 to avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, such as significant sea level rise that would inundate nations and coastlines around the world, create prolonged pervasive and extreme weather, cause mega-droughts, and lead to food scarcity.

New York has already committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions envisioned by the Under 2 MOU. Earlier this year, as part of the 2015 State Energy Plan, New York set the most aggressive target in the nation to reduce emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 (80 by 50). To achieve these reductions, New York has launched one of the most comprehensive and transformative clean energy agendas in the nation through Reforming the Energy Vision. For more information, on the MOU, visit:

As world leaders gather in Paris this December for the United Nations climate negotiations, New York is proving that reducing emissions can be done and should be done. World leaders must follow suit and commit to the same emissions reductions.

North American Carbon Market

New York and the other northeast regional greenhouse gas cap and trade states have demonstrated that carbon markets are a powerful tool for reducing the pollution that is contributing to climate change. Therefore, in order to maximize impact of proven strategies, New York State will engage its partners in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and California, Quebec and Ontario to explore the possibility of linking the successful carbon markets.‎ Connecting these markets would be more cost-effective and stable, thereby supporting clean energy and driving international carbon emission reductions. New York State will also engage other states and provinces to build a broader carbon market‎ and further drive an international discussion that encourages government action on carbon emissions.


Solar Power for 150,000 Homes and Businesses by 2020

In 2013 Governor Cuomo dedicated $1 billion to the New York solar industry through the NY SUN Initiative. Since then, the State has committed $270 million and supported the deployment of solar across 30,000 homes and businesses.

Building on this progress, the Governor announced a commitment to bring solar to 150,000 more homes and businesses by 2020. For the first time ever, commercial projects will be able to share the power they generate on their properties with surrounding community members through the Governor’s Shared Renewables program.


Renewable Energy at Every SUNY Campus by 2020

The Governor also announced will State University of New York (SUNY), the nation’s largest statewide public university system, will install renewable energy, including solar and other technologies, at each of its 64 campuses by 2020. This commitment builds on SUNY’s existing goals of improving its energy efficiency performance by 20 percent and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020.

The Governor challenged private colleges and universities to join SUNY in their commitment. To support public and private schools investing in solar, the New York Power Authority will provide new tools and resources to evaluate, manage, and contract solar lease agreements with private sector partners.

In addition, New York State will invest in clean, renewable power across all of its public buildings and facilities, expanding upon its ambitious energy efficiency objectives.

Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy & Finance for New York State, said “New York is once again serving as a national role model, turning bold ideas into action as Governor Cuomo takes the lead on efforts to address climate change. Under these commitments made today and as part of the Governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision plan, New York is on a firm path to reach our clean energy and environment goals by building a clean, resilient and affordable energy system.”

Basil Seggos, Deputy Secretary for the Environment and Incoming Acting Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, said: “Governor Cuomo has developed one of the most aggressive comprehensive clean energy and climate resiliency agendas in the nation. Today’s announcements boldly demonstrate the kind of leadership that is needed in the run up to the United Nations climate negotiations in December.”

Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is designed to build a cleaner, more affordable and resilient energy system for all New Yorkers through a combination of new energy policies, state-wide initiatives and regulatory reforms. This protects the environment and supports the State’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent while generating 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. Successful initiatives already launched as part of REV include NY-Sun, NY Green Bank, NY Prize, K-Solar and a commitment to improve energy affordability for low-income communities.

This announcement builds upon New York State’s Climate Week (Sep. 22-29) initiatives including providing $175 million for five large-scale clean energy projects to increase electricity generation from renewable energy sources, a $35 million project to make Roberto Clemente State Park’s Harlem River waterfront greener and more storm-resilient, and a $3 million clean energy competition for colleges and universities in New York State.