For Immediate Release: February 11, 2019
In advance of a series of State Senate hearings on the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), environmental leaders and community groups are urging lawmakers to push for even stronger action on climate change.
While the CCPA had set a goal of reaching 100% renewable energy by 2050, leading climate activists across the country are demanding a faster transition off fossil fuels. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, which has drawn support from hundreds of organizations and leading Democrats, seeks to reach the same goal on a ten-year timeline, while highlighting the millions of jobs created by investing in renewable energy.
Many of the same activists are also calling for a halt to new pipelines and power plants that transport and burn fracked gas, a demand missing from the CCPA.
“As the Senate commences hearings on climate change, the science is clear – we must make a rapid transition to renewable energy. This session we must chart a course to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and immediately halt the construction of fossil fuel projects across the state. Simply put, 2050 is too late to prevent climate catastrophe, and New York must set a real example for the rest of the nation,” said Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region Director at Food & Water Watch.
Advocates stressed the urgency of passing an aggressive climate bill this session. Earlier this year, over 160 organizations signed on to a letter urging the legislature and Governor Cuomo to move the state to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and ban new fossil fuel infrastructure projects.
“Legislators should seek to combine the strongest climate proposals from the Governor, NYS OFF Act and CCPA. It must include committing to a strong Just Transition and Environmental Justice. We must set short, two-year interim goals for action and ensure adequate monitoring of the results and plans for corrective action. Over the last 15 years the state has consistently fallen far short of the limited climate goals that it has set. We need to require local governments and state agencies to also develop climate action plans and give the right to citizens to enforce the measures in court,” said Mark Dunlea of the Green Education and Legal Fund.
GELF and the other groups also applauded the effort by Assembly Energy Chair Michael Cusick to get NYSERDA to release its long-delayed study on how fast the state can move to 100% clean energy. “Science, not politics, should form the basis of how the state seeks to transition to a clean, renewable energy future,” added Dunlea.
“The science is clear: our climate boat is rocking dangerously. To avoid tipping it over entirely we need bold action that moves us to entirely renewable energy within a decade,” said Sandra Steingraber, PhD, cofounder of Concerned Health Professionals New York. “We need to stop building new natural gas infrastructure and take the old coal-burners off life support. We need to help farmers turn New York’s soil into a carbon warehouse via regenerative agriculture. We need a just transition for fossil fuel workers and the communities they live in. It’s all hands on deck, and, with the strongest possible legislation, New York can, as it always has, show the world the way.”
With New Yorkers still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, advocates stressed the importance of drastic action. “I lost everything in Sandy, and my family was devastated again by Maria. It’s time for radical action, a New York version of the proposed federal Green New Deal, to stop the climate crisis and create good jobs,” said Rachel Rivera, a Sandy survivor with New York Communities for Change (NYCC) whose family home in Puerto Rico was flooded out by Maria. “We urge the Legislature to greatly strengthen and then enact the CCPA, including eliminating climate pollution in 2040, or to pass the OFF Act.”
Activists across New York are fighting to stop new fossil fuel infrastructure projects from the Danskammer fracked gas plant in Newburgh to a proposed gas-fired power plant on Cayuga Lake to the Williams fracked gas pipeline proposed to run through New York Harbor. Environmental leaders urged the legislature to take a strong stand against all these projects in any climate legislation.
"As demonstrated by the scientists in the latest UN IPCC report and the National Climate Assessment by 13 US Federal Agencies, we're in a climate crisis and time is running out. We need to take bold actions now to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. We must enact laws to mandate 100% renewable energy by 2030. We need to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure and phase out nuclear power. The actions we take today will determine whether we will be able to sustain life on earth as we know it both now and in the future," said Ling Tsou, cofounder of United for Action.
“The cost of renewables has plummeted in recent years and is expected to get even cheaper as economies of scale create market efficiencies,” said Michel Lee, senior analyst at Promoting Health and Sustainable Energy (PHASE). “The case against fossil and nuclear is no longer an argument against bad environmental policy, it’s an argument against unsustainable economic policy,” she added.
“Due to the lack of legislative action to date, it is now more imperative than ever that we act with the urgency needed to meet the emergency at hand. As 16- year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg said recently in her address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, we need to act like ‘our house is on fire, because it is.... Either we prevent a 1.5 degree of warming, or we don't.’ The time to decide is now, while we still can. 100% by 2030 is the only sane path forward,” said Lyna Hinkel, co-founder and steering committee member of 350NYC.
“Birds are an indicator of the health of our environment. Audubon's comprehensive 2014 Birds and Climate Change Report concluded that ‘of the 314 (North American) species at risk from global warming, 126 of them are classified as climate endangered. These birds are projected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2050. The other 188 species are classified as climate threatened and expected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2080 if global warming continues at its current pace,’” said Brian Weiner, Conservation Co-Chair at the South Shore Audubon Society.
"New York lawmakers must legislate in accord with climate science, which since 2008 has been clear that, in order to prevent runaway global warming and a climate catastrophe, the goal must be to get atmospheric carbon back below 350 parts per million. That requires emissions reductions of 10% per year in developed areas like New York if we are going to have a Just Transition that is equitable between rich and poor countries. It means halting all new fossil fuel infrastructure and building a 100% clean energy system by 2030. New York can set an example for the nation and the world. The time for New York to enact a science-grounded climate action program is this year. Time is running out,” said Howie Hawkins, 2018 Green Party candidate for governor of New York.
“The Green Party of Nassau County seeks a true, authentic Green New Deal for New York State. To solve the crisis of climate change requires that we take strong actions--a rapid transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 and the halting of all fossil fuel infrastructure projects,” said Jim Brown, Secretary at the Green Party of Nassau County. “At the same time that we make this critical transition we must make it a just transition, fair to workers in the fossil fuel industry who would will suffer displacement, and fair to those communities that have been most harmed by fossil fuels’ pollution impacts over many years.”