Must Commit to a Clean Energy Future ASAP
(Albany, NY) Climate change activists said today that New York’s long delayed state energy master plan should formally end to fossil fuel era by immediately halting any further investment in fossil fuels, including upgrading its infrastructure. The final plan is expected to be released shortly.
The groups say that the state needs to set concrete targets and timelines for moving to 100% clean energy. Climate change action certainly needs to be much faster than the present goal of 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which many feel will be inadequate to prevent catastrophic impacts from climate change.
More than 75 labor, faith, community and environmental organizations have endorsed state legislation for New York to commit to 100% clean energy by 2030 as part of the state energy master plan.
“The state is promoting an all of the above approach to energy, with support for coal, natural gas and nuclear power as well as for renewable energy and energy conservation. Not only should the state commit to transitioning to 100% clean energy as soon as humanly possible, it also needs to invest in changing what is possible,” said Mark Dunlea, Chair of the Green Education and Legal Fund.
Last week state officials proposed maintaining subsidies for renewable energy at largely the level of the last decade, when only 3% new renewables were added. Instead of meeting its goal of 30% (and 45% energy conservation and renewable) by 2015, only about 22% of the state’s electricity comes from renewables (19% comes from long time hydro projects).
The Jacobson report by Stanford and Cornell professors found that it was technologically feasible for the state to go to 100% clean energy by 2030, though there are major political and economic challenges. The report showed that such a transition was also a path to full employment, with an estimated 4.5 million jobs to be created during the build out (equivalent to about 280,000 40-year jobs). It would also lower electric rates by more than half compared to continued reliance upon burning fossil fuels.
“With the price of renewables falling so much in recent years, the Cuomo administration feels that the private market will solve the problem with a little push. But we need the transition to be much faster and comprehensive than what the market will provide. Support is needed for particular programs like off-shore wind which the state and federal government have been impeding. And perhaps most importantly, we need everyone pushing the clean energy future right now with real leadership and accountability for meeting the goals that will help protect our state from the worst impacts of climate change,” added Dunlea.
The groups are also working with state legislators to enact a state carbon tax so that polluters pay for the $30 billion plus annual cost of the damages in the state from air pollution and severe weather caused by burning fossil fuels.
Clean energy includes renewables, conservation, efficiency and reduction. It does not include nuclear power or natural gas.
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