Class 6 – overview state, nat’l, intn’l bodies

Class 6 – Monday, March 28, 2022


  • Overview of the role Local, State, National, international bodies play on the climate action agenda. Paris Climate Accords, COP26 (Conference of the Parties), IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)


Required Readings


  1. Federal Action: Congress Climate History | Center for Climate and Energy Solutions ( ;;
  3. Federal government activity on climate change – Ballotpedia,
  4. FERC into FREC – Beyond Extreme Energy –
  5. State – Center for American Progress –
  6. Overview of Prior COPs (Conference Of the Parties) – in files


Optional Readings

  1. Federal financial regulation:
  2. Congressional research service overview –
  3. IPCC –
  4. State climate brief from Center for American Progress – in files
  6. Global Climate Agreements: Successes and Failures | Council on Foreign Relations (






3:45 News – – heat wave artic / Antarctic

– Germany pushes renewable
– Hochul on Hydrogen

– 9 years to zero emissions

3:50 Role of local, state, federal, international

4:10  Mark’s advocacy week

4:30 Break

4:35 How to write memo of support

4:50 Brainstorm earth day and norlite

5:10 Organizing Bennington Climate


3:45 News – 50 degree heatwave in arctic and Antarctica

Germany pushes renewable
– Hochul on Hydrogen

– 9 years to zero emissions

1’Antarctica and the Arctic suffered heat waves in the past week, reaching 70 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. In parts of the Arctic, temperatures soared to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) above average on Friday, according to The Associated Press. The same day, on the other end of the planet, Antarctica’s Dome C research station registered a record temperature of 13.8 degrees, about 70 degrees above average.

2, Phaseout Pathways for Fossil Fuel Production Within Paris-Compliant Carbon Budgets | International Institute for Sustainable Development (

To have a 50% chance of keeping global warming below 1.5 C — — Taking into account countries’ differing levels of wealth, development, and economic reliance on fossil fuels, the report says the wealthiest countries—which produce over a third of the world’s oil and gas—must cut output by 74% by 2030 and end oil and gas production by 2034. This action will keep the world on track for 1.5°C and give poorer nations longer to replace their income from fossil fuel production.

The poorest nations should be given until 2050 to end production, but they will also need significant financial support to transition their economies. However, even these countries must cut back by 14% by 2030, compared to today’s production.

The report also offers a more ambitious scenario with a 67% chance of meeting 1.5°C. This would require the richest countries to end oil and gas production by 2031 and the poorest by 2042.

  1. Germany

Vladmir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has made Germany’s reliance on Russian oil and gas untenable, and led the center-left government of Chancellor Olav Scholz to accelerate the transition to clean energy.

German leaders are in the early stages of showing the world what an aggressive climate policy looks like in a crisis. Scholz and his cabinet will introduce legislation to require nearly 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035, which would help to meet the existing goal of getting to net-zero emissions by 2045.

“Our goal of achieving climate neutrality in Germany by 2045 is more important than ever,” Scholz said this week in an address to parliament. Germany’s strategy is in contrast to the United States, where the Biden administration, also elected with ambitious climate plans, has seen that part of its agenda almost completely stalled.

The difference is that Germany—and much of the rest of Europe—have a head start on the United States in making a transition to clean energy, said Nikos Tsafos of the Energy Security and Climate Change Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

“There is more social and political consensus in favor of decarbonization [in Europe], and the plans and strategies are far more developed,” Tsafos said in an email. “By contrast, climate legislation remains highly politicized in the United States, and the instinct among many is to merely increase oil and gas production.”

Germany’s actions on climate and clean energy hold special relevance for the United States because both nations have large economies built on heavy industry and plentiful fossil fuels. Germany adopted groundbreaking renewable energy incentives in the 2000s, making it a model for others. It has continued since then with decades of progress, along with a recurring theme of frustration that progress has often not been fast enough.

A Partially Green Coalition

One of the reasons the German government is moving forward on climate legislation is that to do otherwise might end up being a deal-breaker for one of the coalition partners, Alliance 90/The Greens. The party’s election gains have made it part of the government for the first time since it was a partner in the coalition defeated by Angela Merkel in 2005.

The Greens have become essential parts of the country’s leadership. The party’s co-leader, Annalena Baerbock, is the foreign minister and she is doing much of the diplomatic work on the Ukraine crisis. The other Green co-leader, Robert Habeck, is vice chancellor and leads the ministry for economic affairs and climate action, an office that had “climate action” added to its name with this government, and that is leading the push for clean energy legislation.

  1. Hydrogen – will cover later on (semi) false solutions – blue vs green

Green hydrogen production separates water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable energy-powered electrolysis, and blue hydrogen utilizes natural gas.

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that New York has signed a multi-state agreement, including with an initial group of 40 hydrogen ecosystem partners, to develop a proposal to become one of at least four regional clean energy hydrogen hubs designated through the federal Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs program included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The New York-led consortium includes Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey

Sierra club – The gas industry touts “blue hydrogen” as a climate-friendly solution because theoretically, carbon dioxide is removed and stored during the hydrogen production process. However, recent research indicates that producing blue hydrogen does not actually reduce climate emissions compared to using methane gas. In fact, using hydrogen made from gas with or without CCS at a power plant actually produces more emissions than burning gas alone at that power plant, due to the emissions intensity of creating blue or gray hydrogen.

Hydrogen produces pollution

When hydrogen is combusted, it does not produce carbon emissions, but it does produce NOx emissions up to six times worse than those released by methane combustion. NOx can cause serious health effects, including asthma and increased chance of respiratory infections; NOx is also a precursor to particulate matter and ozone, which harm the respiratory system.

Plus water impact, EJ, etc.

Green hydrogren better but still not a great alternative and limits on how it should be used (e.g, no transport)

3:50 Role of various levels of government

Committee chairs

Building coalitions
drafting legisation

Laws are one thing, money in budgets is often the most important

Role of Local

Building codes – how much insulation in homes; allow / require solar and renewable energy; no more gas hookups

Ithaca – Green New Deal – $100 million raised to decarbonize buildings

Zoning – smart growth

Mass transit / buses

Community Choice Aggregation – collective purchasing of renewable energy

Microgrid development

Public power – many communities have, especially in rural areas

Roadmap to Municipal Sustainability –


Role of State

Climate action plans

Legislative and regulatory action – approval of gas pipelines (interstate via Clean water act)

Targets for greenhouse emission reductions, funding for renewable energy, energy storage, incentives for individuals to purchase heat pumps, etc., energy retrofits, statewide building codes, SMART Growth, mass transit, carbon tax, state energy master plans

Often the regulation of utilities will see a lot of policy being done – in NY, that is where all the money comes from (surcharges on utility bills), mandate how much renewables utilities must obtain

Net Metering for solar – Run the meter backwards Net metering is an electric billing tool that uses the electric grid to store excess energy produced by your solar panel system. Under net metering, energy your solar panels produce and you don’t use is credited back to you. On a cloudy or rainy day when your panel’s aren’t producing enough energy, the utility grid will feed your home energy, and count that energy against the credits you’ve banked over time. As a solar customer, you will only be billed for your “net” energy usage. Also known as net energy metering or NEM, net metering is the solar industry’s foundational policy.

Limits on state action – almost all are required to have balanced budgets unlike federal; federal pre-emption

Regional state collaboration – Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (carbon cap-and-trade for electricity producers) ; Transportation Climate Initiative

Role of Federal

Could pass legislation but little has been done in that regard in last 20 to 30 years due to power of campaign contributions plus more recently partisan gridlock. Senate has made it fairly difficult to pass legislation because it has liberalized the use of the filibuster, which triggers a 60-vote threshold. You can do two budget reconciliations a year, but not supposed to do policy.

Executive Orders –

Funding important, incentives, research

Mileage rules and emission for cars – California exception

Taxes – or lack thereof (carbon tax, tax incentives for fossil fuels, wind, solar, conservation)

Leasing of pubic lands, off shore oil (feds own 3 miles out) and wind

FERC – Federal Energy Regulatory Commission –

Department of transportation – supports highways (power of auto companies) rather than mass transit, poor railroad systems

Data collection

Financial regulation – investments – Department of Treasury, Security Exchange Commission



United Nations – more for talking than decisions

Paris – began to shift from a 2-degree C global warming target to 1.5 degree; required nations to set emission goals; some funding for Global south but more debt rather than grants


The United Nations Climate Change Conferences are yearly conferences held in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They serve as the formal meeting of the UNFCCC parties (Conference of the Parties, COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change, and beginning in the mid-1990s, to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol to establish legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.[1] Starting in 2005 the conferences have also served as the “Conference of the Parties Serving as the Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol” (CMP);[2] also parties to the convention that are not parties to the protocol can participate in protocol-related meetings as observers. From 2011 to 2015 the meetings were used to negotiate the Paris Agreement as part of the Durban platform, which created a general path towards climate action. Any final text of a COP must be agreed by consensus.[3]

The Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997 and entered into force in 2005, was the first legally binding climate treaty. It required developed countries to reduce emissions by an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels, and established a system to monitor countries’ progress. But the treaty did not compel developing countries, including major carbon emitters China and India, to take action. The United States signed the agreement in 1998 but never ratified it and later withdrew its signature.

Climate accords – targets for greenhouse gas reductions (voluntary vs. mandatory), goals for climate warming, funding and resources for Global South

The high-stakes COP26 climate change talks in Glasgow concluded on Saturday evening with the strongest government commitments to fighting climate change in history. Yet they’re still not enough to meet the ambitious targets of the Paris climate agreement and stave off some of the worst consequences of global warming. It was not the massive course correction for the climate that activists — some of whom staged a “die-in” outside the COP26 venue — were clamoring for.

“It is an important step, but [it] is not enough. We must accelerate climate action to keep alive the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees”, UN chief António Guterres said in a video statement. “We did not achieve these goals at this conference. But we have some building blocks for progress.”  Ending fossil fuel consumption is still a longshot—but the world is getting there.  For the first time in COP history, the Glasgow Climate Pact finally mentions slashing fossil fuels—something even the Paris Agreement couldn’t do. The exact wording came down to “accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, recognizing the need for support towards a just transition.” This language is crucial, as originally the pact held much tougher standards for fossil fuel by calling for a “phase-out” instead of a “phase-down.


4:10 Mark’s week

Cryptocurrency – press conference – taped two interviews; moratorium bill passed out of the Assembly Environmental Conservation committee – proof of work

Climate action plan – hearings in April, had Bob Cohen of Citizen Action / New York Renews give a short briefing to PAUSE, model comments – you will get three minutes to testify; sign up early; hand out fact sheets to the crowd

  1. Public hearing dates
  1. Touch base – Existing information guides (NY Renews)
  2. Content development – shared materials
    • .Ex 1: CAC scoping plan one pager – Sierra Club

Ex 2: Scoping plan guide – New Yorkers for Clean Power

Thank you for attending The People’s CAC: Guide to Shaping New York’s Climate Future! In case you missed it, here is a recording. The passcode is R.ZFy?0G.

We hope you enjoyed our introduction to New York’s Draft Scoping Plan process, and that you feel ready and able to submit your own one-click comments on the plan. If you haven’t already, be sure to submit comments on the three sectors we’ve analyzed so far:

Fridays for Future – Global Climate Strike March 25 – RPI Sunrise Movement – taped the rally in Albany, also interview with one of the NYC leaders

After a two year hiatus due to pandemic lockdowns and other public health restrictions for Covid-19, the world’s youth are once again marching in the streets en masse, lambasting their leaders for the continued rise of global greenhouse gas emissions and demanding that they do far more to address the rapidly worsening climate crisis.

Photos of the protests have already begun to flood Twitter and other social media. In Tokyo, high school students are protesting outside an investment bank, demanding it stop financing new coal plants. In Bangladesh, children—some of whom have yet to reach their teenage years—are standing waist deep in water, urging world leaders to do more to stop the rising seas that are already making floods worse in their hometowns. And at the Neumayer Station III research facility in Antarctica, climate researchers are holding signs with nothing but their lab and frigid tundra behind them, demanding more be done to slow the melting of the earth’s glaciers and ice caps.

Food and Water Watch – called me to ask to call Hochul on the All Electric Building Act to require all new buildings not to use gas by 2024; Hochul has proposed 2027 – connected me to the Governor’s office

Divest teachers – Meeting with Senator Kavanaugh with Divest NY on NYS Teachers Retirement System

SHARE – Please have your organization sign on to this letter of support for the Renewable Capitol Act (A9341 / S8221). We will deliver it to legislators and the governor in early April. The deadline for signing on is April 4th. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions. You can find our Memo of Support and a flyer about the bill on our website.

Dear Legislative Leader:

We write to urge you to pass the Renewable Capitol Act (S8221 (Breslin) / A9341 (McDonald)) this year to transition the state Capitol and Empire State Plaza (Plaza) complex to 100% clean renewable energy within three years. This would serve as a critical model for the rest of the state while responding to more than a century of environmental injustice in the nearby Sheridan Hollow community.

New York State passed the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) in 2019 which requires New York to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050. However, the building that the governor and legislature meet in every day continues to be powered by burning fracked gas in a low-income, primarily people of color neighborhood just blocks from the Capitol.

The Sheridan Avenue Steam Plant (SASP), which heats and cools the Plaza, has polluted the low-income Sheridan Hollow, Arbor Hill and West Hill neighborhoods for more than a century, first burning coal, then oil, then garbage, and now fracked gas. Residents of Sheridan Hollow have high rates of health problems including asthma and cancer.

Continued operation of the SASP is contrary to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Environmental Justice Policy (DEC Commissioner Policy 29), which provides that: “No group of people, including a racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic group, should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations.”

Four years ago, the state legislature rejected a proposed $88 million appropriation to add two new fracked gas turbines on Sheridan Avenue. Due to the actions of community residents and climate groups, that project was rejected by the legislature. Lawmakers instead redirected the funds for that project to be used for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for the Plaza. However, there are still six gas boilers at the SASP that heat and cool the Capitol and Plaza.

The legislation includes having the state speed up the effort by the Office of General Services and New York Power Authority (NYPA) to develop an energy master plan for the complex.

The states of Oklahoma, Michigan and Colorado heat and cool their state capitol buildings with geothermal energy and so does St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Renewable options are available now. If we are to transition our state to renewable energy, we must show how it is done. NYPA can use the Plaza as a training center for future projects. A renewable energy solution incorporating geothermal technology for the Plaza would showcase New York as a climate leader and serve as a model for the nation.

We urge you to continue to make New Yorker a leader in combating climate change and showing the way to a clean renewable energy future by passing this critical initiative.

4:30 Break

4:35 How to Write a memo of support

Lobbying – How to write a legislative memo

Someone needs to understand how legislation is passed in your state, city council, Congress. Ask for assistance. Read the rules. The vast majority of people helping however follow the directions of the lead group.

Always know the rules of the “game / culture.” You can break the rules if you want, but you know what they are, and understand the repercussions of doing so.

What influences elected officials?

  • Personal relationships: Friends, family, and staff members have a tremendous influence on the day-to-day decisions of elected officials.
  • The message: What you say to elected officials is actually important! Latter sections of this document will help you develop a winning message.
  • The media: Media coverage of events will often have an influence on what elected officials talk about in hearings and introduce as legislation.
  • Party considerations: Elected officials are often swayed by their political party’s priorities.
  • Personal interests and passions: All elected officials have one or more policy issues that they care about deeply. Effective advocates will identify those interests and then frame their message accordingly.
  • Staff: It is critical to build good relationships and communicate effectively with legislative staff, as they are generally responsible for briefing elected officials about an issue and advising on what their position should be.
  • Most importantly… their constituents: A common refrain in any elected official’s office is, “How does this impact my constituents?” It is the lens through which many or most decisions are made.

Campaign contributions and votes


Why is it important to ask for something specific?

Asking for something specific is often the most effective way to get an elected official’s attention. Your objective is to encourage someone in the office to think for more than a few minutes about the issues that you have brought to his or her attention; making a clear and concise “ask” helps you to achieve that goal. There are two key types of ask: policy and relationship-building.

  • Policy asks are oriented toward specific legislative or government initiatives (e.g., asking a member of Congress to support a particular bill, sign onto a letter, lead a particular legislative initiative, etc.). Your organization, if you are affiliated with one, may have some asks for you to make.
  • Relationship-building asks, such as attendance at an event, are requests not necessarily related to policy that may nevertheless help you with policy asks in the future.

What is appropriate to ask?

  • You may ask elected officials to do any of the following:
  • Introduce, vote for, or vote against legislation.
  • Cosponsor legislation introduced by someone else in the same chamber of the legislature.
  • Send a letter to an agency about a specific concern or sign onto a letter drafted by another legislator.
  • Send a letter to another member of the legislature in an influential position, such as the chair or ranking member of a particular committee.
  • Help you find and gather information from agencies and research services.
  • Submit a statement to the federal Congressional Record or official state record of legislative action, if applicable.

What is inappropriate to ask?

  • Elected officials cannot do the following, however:
  • Take action for the specific purpose of benefitting you and/or your business
  • Sponsor legislation that is not within their jurisdiction; for example—
  • House members cannot cosponsor or vote for Senate legislation, and vice versa (although they have the option of introducing companion legislation in the chamber in which they serve).
  • Federal legislators cannot cosponsor or vote for state-level legislation, and vice versa.

How to write a memo

  1. How to write to legislators –

Keep it brief: Letters should never be longer than one page, and should be limited to one issue. Legislative aides read many letters on many issues in a day, so your letter should be as concise as possible.

State Who You Are and What You Want Up Front: In the first paragraph, tell your legislators that you are a constituent and identify the issue about which you are writing. If your letters pertains to a specific piece of legislation, it helps to identify it by its bill number (e.g. H.R. ____ or S. _____).

Hit your three most important points: Choose the three strongest points that will be most effective in persuading legislators to support your position and flesh them out.

Personalize your letter: Tell your elected official why this legislation matters in his community or state. If you have one, include a personal story that shows how this issue affects you and your family. A constituent’s personal stories can be the very persuasive as your legislator shapes his or her position.

Personalize your relationship: Have you ever voted for this elected official? Have you ever contributed time or money to his or her campaign? Are you familiar with her through any business or personal relationship? If so, tell your elected official or his staff person. The closer your legislator feels to you, the more powerful your argument is likely to be.

You are the Expert: Remember that your legislator’s job is to represent you. You should be courteous and to the point, but don’t be afraid to take a firm position. Remember that often your elected official may know no more about a given issue than you do.

Green Education and Legal Fund – 518 860-3725

Memo in Support
Teachers’ Fossil Fuel Divestment Act S4783 (Brisport) / A6331 (Kelles)

The Teachers’ Fossil Fuel Divestment Act requires the NYS Teachers Retirement System (NYSTRS), after due consideration of fiduciary responsibility, to divest from its holdings in major coal, oil and gas producers.

NYSTRS is the second-largest public retirement system in NY and one of the ten largest in the nation. With $120 billion in assets, the fund has an estimated $4.5 billion in fossil fuel investments including over $425 million in coal.  Membership in NYSTRS includes teachers, teaching assistants, guidance counselors and administrators employed in NYS public schools (excluding NYC). BOCES, charter schools, and some community college teachers are also members.

Global warming is reaching crisis proportions and creating havoc. Superstorms, floods and droughts have hurt countless New Yorkers. The climate crisis will cause rising sea levels, food shortages, migration, and economic upheaval. If there is any hope for diverting the worst impacts of climate change, the world must immediately stop burning fossil fuels and transition to a renewable energy economy.  We now have the technology and the scalability to rapidly replace carbon emitting fossil fuels with renewable energy. Renewables are now significantly cheaper than all fossil fuels including gas.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that we have ten years left to dramatically act to end the burning of fossil fuels. New York’s new climate law (CLCPA) mandates that we reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. Financing fossil fuels at this time is against international and New York state climate goals and risks losing billions in stranded assets.

New York must take the lead in fighting global warming, and divestment is a winning strategy. Already, over 1,300 institutions throughout the world with portfolios totaling more than $14 trillion have pledged to divest from the fossil fuel industry. These include the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the NYC pension funds including all city teachers, Ireland, the World Council of Churches, Cornell and Syracuse Universities, Ithaca and the town of Cooperstown.

Pouring money into the dying fossil fuel industry is fiscally irresponsible.  Energy stocks have been the worst performing sector of the economy for over ten years.

Finally, it is morally inexcusable to invest in the continued destruction of our environment and damage to our economy caused by climate change.  Superstorm Sandy alone caused over a hundred deaths, disrupted the lives of thousands of New Yorkers and cost billions of dollars. It is simply wrong to support the industry that is causing this destruction.

Divestment campaigns have been successful in the past.  Divestment helped end apartheid in South Africa in the mid-1980s. Divestment appropriately stigmatizes the fossil fuel industry for its culpability in the climate crisis.

The Green Education and Legal Fund calls on the legislature to immediately pass the Teacher’s Fossil Fuel Divestment Act to protect our communities from climate disaster. Divestment is a financial and moral imperative for the long-term survival of the pension fund, the climate, and all communities of New York State.

4:50 Brainstorm earth day and norlite (April 30, 11:30 PM)


Have a group from Norlite speak – banner – some skit – song; organize people to come


Call in April 4


Outreach to college groups especially in Capital District and Hudson Valley.

Maybe a corridor from Albany to Buffalo to fill a western ny bus?

How about a draft press release for the bike trek stops?


5:10 Organizing Bennington Climate group – update, meeting date


ADD Judith and me to list