New York needs to commit to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030.
New York needs to invest in energy conservation, energy reduction, wind, solar and geothermal (e.g., heat pumps) not oil, gas, coal, fossil fuel infrastructure, or nukes. We must immediately halt investments in fossil fuels and related infrastructure. (Read Op Ed)
Legislation, the NYS OFF Act, to require a halt to new fossil fuels, 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, Just Transition / EJ / Public Ownership this has been introduced by Assemblymember Colton (A3565) and Sen. Addabbo. The bill was amended in 2018 to add provisions on a Just Transition and environmental justice; require all new cars to be fossil free by 2025; and require local governments and the state to adopt a detailed climate action plan. We are partnering with Food and Water Watch, which is coordinating the Off Fossil Fuels campaign nationally (100% by 2035).
Governor Cuomo earlier this year announced his version of a Green New Deal. He significantly increased goals for renewable energy, particularly off shore wind. He calls for 70% of electricity to be from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% of electricity to be carbon free by 2030. His Climate Leadership Act in the state budget largely enacts the existing Executive Order from 2009 on climate – creating a Climate Leadership Council and enacting a state climate plan. (Sen. Sanders and As. Ortiz have introduced a true NYS Green New Deal.
Legislative leaders recently announced that they plan to deal with climate post budget. GELF said lets work together to enact the strongest timeline possible, along with a halt to new fossil fuel projects. GELF Statement
Legislative leaders have been most committed to the Climate and Community Protection Act (A3876 / S2992) though many agree on the need to strengthen it, including timeline and a halt to new fossil fuels.
Gov. Cuomo announced in his 2017 State of the State that he was directing NYSERDA to do the study GELF requested on how fast NYS can move to 100% clean energy. The study has been repeatedly delayed. The state now says it wants to avoid releasing the study because the economics of renewables is changing so quickly and instead incorporate the research into the pending update of the State Energy Master Plan.
Divestment, Carbon Tax
Legislation divesting the state pension funds from fossil fuels, introduced by Sen. Krueger (S2126) As. Ortiz (A 1536), has nearly 60 legislative co-sponsors. NYC has divested its pension funds from coal and in January 2018 announced that it will divest the rest. Gov. Cuomo also announced his support for state divestment. The NYS pension fund would have an extra $22 billion if it had divested a decade ago. The State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (call, telll him to Divest NY 518 474-4044) has resisted divestment, saying he wants to invest billions in fossil fuels companies so they will listen to his voice. The NYS Attorney General meanwhile has sued Exxon for defrauding investors with their lies about climate change over the last three decades. See GELF testimony from April 30, 2019 hearing.
The state carbon tax bill has several dozen sponsors, As. Cahill (A39) and Sen. Parker (S3608). The tax starts at $35 a ton and increase by $15 per ton per year. There is also legislation for a feasibility study for a carbon tax (A1919 / S4598). (Audio presentation of state carbon tax bill) NY Renews has also developed a corporate polluter penalty carbon tax bill (S3616).
Background Prior to 2019
Green energy is also the path to full employment and lower energy rates. A study by Stanford (Jacobson) and Cornell professors show that it is technologically feasible for NY to transition to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 while creating 4.5 million jobs. Electric rates would be over 50% lower compared to continued reliance upon fossil fuels. There also needs to be commitments to a Just Transition to help impacted communities and workers and provide funding to the most disadvantaged communities.
The biggest obstacles to going to 100% clean energy are political and economic power, not energy technology. Fossil fuel companies wish to maintain their profits and market share, as does Wall Street. Solving climate change requires energy democracy, changing the political and economic system that promotes unsustainable development and energy use. We need democratic control over the energy system, including public ownership and Community Choice Aggregation. “We need bold action to avoid climate change’s worst impacts, and we need to act now,” said Prof. Steve Breyman. (see press release)
The major “victory” in COP 21 in Paris was that the industrial polluting nations such as the US agreed with the rest of the world that the existing global warming cap target of 2 degree celsius would lead to catastrophic change. They agreed to set a lower target of 1.5 degrees celsius. The IPCC recent report highlighted the need for the 1.5 degree target and for an unprecedented worldwide emergency mobilization – we have 12 years left to get it right. All previous IPCC reports however have been overly optimistic reading the speed and severity of climate change. Scientific studies show this means reducing greenhouse gases twice as fast (9% annually) compared to the old goal of “80 by 50”. Catastrophic climate change is likely to occur within years, not decades. (Tropics by 2020, rest of world 2047)
NY must speed up its transition to renewable energy (see Oct. 2017 letter to Cuomo from 60 groups). Cuomo unfortunately is giving more money ($7.6 billion over 12 years) to bail out old upstate nuclear power plants than he is giving to renewable energy. He has also impeded the development of community solar with his VDER rules. We also need increased efforts by local governments to move to 100% clean energy (see A Local Climate Action Agenda)
We need stronger commitments by NYS and NYC re off shore wind (e.g., a PPA for 5,000 MW by 2025, 10,000 MW by 2030). NYSERDA however adopted a goal of only 2400 MW by 2030 with an RFP over the next two years to purchase 800 MW. NYS did put money in the budget for a study of tax credits for farmers to put carbon back in the soil through regenerative agriculture. (also A3281).
GELF is a 501(c)(3)nonprofit dedicated to promoting the green values of nonviolence, ecology, democracy and justice.
Organized in 1998, the purposes of GELF include conducting research and education in furtherance of the green principles of ecology, grassroots democracy, non-violence, social and economic justice, decentralization, community economics, feminism, respect for diversity, personal and global responsibility, and future focus.