Greens Say NYS Budget Needs an Ecosocialist Green New Deal

The Green Education and Legal Fund (GELF) called today for the NYS Budget to dramatically speed up its transition to zero greenhouse emissions along with a robust economic Bill of Rights that includes a just transition, guaranteed living wage jobs and minimum income above poverty, single-payer universal health care and a massive investment in affordable housing (including public ownership) and free public higher education.

The Green Party of NY first proposed a Green New Deal in 2010.

The Climate Action Council has estimated the cost to transition to zero emissions at close to $3 trillion. Even taking the overly slow 30-year timeline favored by the Hochul administration (rather than the 10 years supported by the Greens and climate science) still requires an annual investment of close to $100 billion in the clean energy transition. While Hochul expects the vast majority of such funding to come from redirecting existing energy expenditures, there is little evidence that this Is occurring anywhere near the scale needed.

“To avoid climate collapse, New York needs to be investing tens of billions of dollars annually in the clean energy transition, with far more funds directed to environmental justice (EJ) communities than the meager amounts the Hochul administration is presently providing. New Yorkers are forced to spend more than $50 billion annually to subsidize the pollution from fossil fuels. We need a robust carbon tax of close to $100 per ton as well as major tax hikes on the wealthy much higher than lawmakers are proposing,” said Mark Dunlea, chair of GELF. Greens have love advocated to end the rebate of the stock transfer tax.

Global warming is already at the 1.5 degree C target that scientists said is needed to avoid catastrophic climate change, with extreme weather rapidly accelerating. The Greens faulted the Hochul administration for failing to acknowledge the climate emergency and not requiring all state agencies to immediately ensure that their policies focus on driving down emissions and increasing renewable energy.

GELF has long called for public ownership and democratic control of the energy sector as well as other parts of the economy, far beyond the Build Public Renewables Act adopted last year. It called upon lawmakers to adopt the Senate’s proposal to include the Renewable Capitol Act in the budget, transitioning the state capitol complex to zero emissions within 3 years and ending a century of pollution in the Sheridan Hollow EJ neighborhood.

Hochul has repeatedly called to slow down cutting emissions, pushing for an initial cap on carbon prices of only $23 a ton, far below DEC’s estimate of $121 a ton or EPA’s recent estimate of $190. The International Monetary Fund estimates that world governments provide an annual global subsidy of $7 trillion (7.1% of GDP) primarily by failing to charge fossil fuel companies for the massive damages caused by their pollution. GELF supports a carbon tax rather than the cap-and-trade approach of Hochul, as well as adopting measures to ensure that pollution is reduced in environmental justice communities.

“To protect consumers from price increases in fossil fuels, the solution is not to continue to provide Exxon, Shell, and the other oil and gas companies with massive subsidies. Instead, make them pay for the damages they cause, and then provide massive rebates to consumers along with funding to pay to decarbonize their homes such as by installing heat pumps and energy conservation measures. That is why New York needs to adopt the full NY Heat Act, including capping utility bills at 6% of income,” added  Dunlea. GELF supports the Climate Superfund Act as one step in making polluters pay.

GELF criticized the recent decision by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli not to divest billions of dollars from Exxon and other oil and gas companies. It called on state lawmakers to hold public hearings on the finding by DiNapoli that the big oil and gas companies are now committed to a clean energy transition, a finding contrary to the analysis of almost all climate experts.

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