NY Needs the Strongest Climate Change Legislation Possible
A Plan to Move New York Off Fossil Fuels to 100% Renewable Energy by 2030
A.3565 Will Build Healthier Communities, Create Jobs and Fight the Climate Crisis
Climate change threatens life as we know it on this planet. The IPCC says we have less than 12 years left to prevent catastrophic climate change. Pollution from dirty energy is taking lives and creating health problems in frontline communities. Our state is being overwhelmed by new dirty energy projects like oil and gas pipelines, power plants and compressor stations, and the renewed threat of offshore drilling.
Due to lack of strong action on climate change, New York has fallen behind in the drive to develop clean energy. We get only 5% of the state’s electricity from solar and wind. Progress on reducing emissions from transportation and buildings is even slower.
It is time for bold, decisive policies that will create jobs, build safer communities, and help turn back the climate crisis. The climate crisis demands that we move off fossil fuels as fast as possible.A. 3565 is the strongest climate and clean energy bill the state has ever seen. This bill will get us to 100% clean renewable energy by the year 2030. We must fight to make them a reality.
A Political Problem: The technology already exists for us to begin this transition right now. The problem isn’t technical–it is political. We need to build the political will around the urgency of the crisis to demand the policies that will make the transition happen.
We must pass A. 3565 or significantly strengthen the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) and/or the Governor’s Climate Leadership Act to show true leadership on climate change.
While the Governor has recently announced increased commitments to climate action, including a Green New Deal, most of his initiatives are being done administratively. His budget proposals focus on finally convening the Climate Action Council and creating the state climate action plan authorized in a 2009 Executive Order.
KEY POINT: WE NEED THE FASTEST TRANSITION POSSIBLE. The bill mandates a swift and just transition to 100% clean energy by the year 2030. Simply put, 2050 is too late. Any serious attempt to address the climate crisis must move faster than the current timeline in the CCPA.
The OFF Act timeline is based on the “Jacobson” study by Stanford and Cornell professors. 2030 is also the target date of the federal Green New Deal proposal. 2035 for electricity and transportation is the target date for the federal OFF Act, which last session was sponsored by every Congressional Democrat from NY except one. The US conference of Mayors has 2035 as a goal.
The OFF Act has provisions to ensure that renewable energy goals by individual utilities are met. It also calls for carbon offsets by putting carbon back into the soil through regenerative agriculture.
The Governor has proposed that 70% of our electricity come from clean sources by 2030, and 100% by 2040. He continues however to use the state’s existing 2009 goal of an 80% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050. NYSERDA for two years has done a study on how fast we can get to 100% but won’t release even a draft. The CCPA calls for 100% clean energy by 2050.
- STOP FOSSIL FUEL THREATS. The state needs to enact a ban on the development of new fossil fuel infrastructure and start a phase-out of existing fossil fuels.
The OFF Act calls for a halt to new fossil fuels infrastructure; the CCPA and the Governor do not directly address this issue. The state needs to strengthen its monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane leakage. The state needs to be clear that the use of natural gas must be ended.
- The state needs strong commitments to a Just Transition and Environmental Justice. It must ensure that low and moderate income people are able to participate in the renewable energy future.
The CCPA has strong worker standards that should be adopted. The OFF Act has detailed Just Transition provisions to ensure that the needs of existing fossil fuel workers and communities dependent upon such plants are meet. Funding must be dedicated to assist disadvantaged communities.
- The legislation needs to set targets and goals for transportation and buildings, both of which account for a third of the state’s carbon footprint.
As the OFF Act proposes, NY should adopt California’s requirement that new residential buildings to be net zero carbon emissions, with solar, by 2020 (the goal for all other buildings is 2030). The state needs to strengthen programs to energy retrofit buildings. We also need to move to clean renewable heat (geothermal, air heat pumps for buildings)..
- The State needs to adopt a strong climate action plan, with clear two-year benchmarks, timelines and activities. There should be an annual report to the legislature.
Similar to California, the OFF Act requires climate plans for county and local governments (of more than 50,000). There must be ways for labor and community groups to fully participate in the planning process, not the fossil fuel industry. There must be a commitment to energy democracy.
While the Governor requires a climate action plan, the CCPA only requires a scoping document.
- The various climate action plans need to be legally enforceable.
Like California, the right for citizens to legally enforce the climate plan should be included in the legislation. State and local agencies must be required to adhere to the climate plan; the provisions within the CCPA to do this must be significantly strengthened.
- Support A. 3565 by signing on as a cosponsor (if they’re not already on). Need a lead Senate sponsor
- Commit to fighting for a faster timeline to get 100% renewables in CCPA
- Commit to pushing for ban on fossil fuel projects in whatever climate legislation moves this session.