Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/climate-change 2019-04-24T11:07:19+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Max & Murphy Podcast: The City Council Takes on Climate Change 2019-04-17T04:00:00+00:00 2019-04-17T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/city/8460-max-murphy-podcast-the-city-council-takes-on-climate-change Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/costa-const-600.jpg" alt="costa const 600" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Council Member Constantinides (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>April 17, 2019 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: The City Council Takes on Climate Change<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/podcast19/costa-const-150.jpg" alt="costa const 150" width="150" height="175" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />City Council Member Costa Constantinides joined the show to discuss a package of legislation he's shepherding through the City Council that aim to fight climate change, including by major requirements for reducing building carbon emissions, as well as his vision for the future of Rikers Island, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/607566285&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/costa-const-600.jpg" alt="costa const 600" width="600" height="399" /></p> <p>Council Member Constantinides (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)</p> <hr /> <p><strong>April 17, 2019 - Max &amp; Murphy Podcast: The City Council Takes on Climate Change<br /></strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/podcast19/costa-const-150.jpg" alt="costa const 150" width="150" height="175" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />City Council Member Costa Constantinides joined the show to discuss a package of legislation he's shepherding through the City Council that aim to fight climate change, including by major requirements for reducing building carbon emissions, as well as his vision for the future of Rikers Island, and more.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/jarrettmurphy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@JarrettMurphy</a>. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max &amp; Murphy," and listen to Max &amp; Murphy live on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio, 99.5FM or wbai.org</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/607566285&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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It’s Time to Get Big Money Out of the Climate Change Fight 2019-04-08T04:00:00+00:00 2019-04-08T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8435-it-s-time-to-get-big-money-out-of-the-climate-change-fight Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/gnd4ny_divestny.jpg" alt="gnd4ny divestny" width="600" height="425" /></p> <p>(photo: John McCarten/NY City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>The window for meaningful action on climate change <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/">is narrowing</a>. Every year, as more <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171116105020.htm">climate impacts</a> <a href="https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/temperature-rise-locked-coming-decades-arctic">become “locked-in</a>,” changes we have to make to save the planet become even harder to implement. Right now, fossil fuel industry campaign contributions to politicians are holding back the solutions we need. &nbsp;</p> <p>If we want to pass climate policies that could actually help reverse the climate crisis, then we also need to fix our democratic system that gives too much power to wealthy donors and big polluters. In New York, a state where wealthy donors contribute an <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/new-yorks-wealthiest-played-outsized-role-funding-2018-campaigns">outsized proportion</a> of funds to campaigns, we have the opportunity to build a public campaign financing system that can address this imbalance. These two crises are interconnected.</p> <p>Nationally, the fossil fuel industry has tightened its stranglehold on American politics. In the 2018 election cycle alone, $89 million in campaign contributions came from the <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E01">oil, gas</a>, and <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E1210">coal</a> industry with the vast majority going to Republicans. Contributions from the fossil fuels sector put a stop to <a href="https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/11/7/18069940/election-results-2018-energy-carbon-fracking-ballot-initiatives">ballot initiatives</a> that would have created landmark state climate and energy legislation here in New York—and across the nation.</p> <p>In the battle over fracked gas development in New York, oil, gas, and fracking support industries spent $10.7 million on contributions and $33.5 million on lobbying <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/attachments.readmedia.com/files/55339/original/Deep_Drilling_Deep_Pockets_2014--FinalVersion.pdf?1389624959">from 2007 to 2013, stalling several fracking restriction measures.</a> While grassroots activists eventually succeeded in pushing Governor Cuomo to take executive action to ban fracking, this influx of pro-fracking cash signals potentially bigger battles ahead as the state considers a 100% renewable energy target.</p> <p>In 2018 in Washington state, <a href="https://www.pdc.wa.gov/browse/campaign-explorer/committee?filer_id=NO1631%20507&amp;election_year=2018">$31.5 million</a> was pumped mostly from mostly out-of-state oil and gas industry into a campaign that ultimately defeated a carbon tax measure that would create revenue for renewable energy and vulnerable communities. And a proposition that would have set restrictions on gas fracking in Colorado was defeated after oil and gas spent over <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_Proposition_112,_Minimum_Distance_Requirements_for_New_Oil,_Gas,_and_Fracking_Projects_Initiative_(2018)#cite_note-supportfin-53">$26 million</a> in the state.</p> <p>That is why a growing chorus of environmental advocates is calling for public financing of elections — which expands the contributions of small donors through public matching programs. With a fair elections system, elected officials would be more responsive to the electorate, an <a href="http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-october-2017/2/">overwhelming majority</a> of which believes we need bold policies to address climate change.</p> <p>One of our best hopes today is here in New York, where lawmakers are on the cusp of passing groundbreaking climate policy and the state budget has just included a commission mandated to develop a public financing system for the state.</p> <p>Public financing of elections would fundamentally change how Albany works, and <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/publication/small-donor-public-financing-ny">amplify the power</a> of working people and people of color. In the long term, fair elections mean that our elected officials will be more engaged with constituents in their districts and responsive to public concerns and needs.</p> <p>To implement an effective fair elections program, legislators and Governor Cuomo must appoint commissioners committed to expanding access to our democracy. A robust program would also include a 6-to-1 contribution match for low-dollar sums, lower contribution limits, and an independent agency to administer the program. In order to limit the influence of big donors who seek to block effective climate policy and other urgent reforms, the commission must act quickly and decisively. Kicking the can down the road is not an option.</p> <p>Simultaneously we can pass the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) to put New York on a path to 100% renewable energy economy-wide. The CCPA is ground-up policy, with <a href="https://www.nyrenews.org/">a coalition</a> of over 160 groups from across the state backing the proposal. The bill puts in place requirements for energy investments to go to disadvantaged communities, and working groups that include community group representatives to oversee implementation of state energy plans. This means more people could be part of shaping an equitable energy transition for New York.</p> <p>The impacts of climate change are not felt equally by all. We need to ensure a more inclusive political process to address everyone’s needs, especially those most vulnerable to climate impacts and pollution, and communities that have been historically excluded from political decision-making.</p> <p>We have the technology we need to begin a rapid transition to a renewable energy economy. Our ability to implement climate solutions is, therefore, a political question. With the <a href="http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us-2018/">majority of New Yorkers</a> in support of government action to curb climate change, a legislature that is more responsive to the electorate could usher the ambitious climate policies we need. Public financing and bold climate measures like the CCPA can reorient our politics to expand who is heard and who is at the table.</p> <p>***<br />Bill Lipton is the New York State Director of the Working Families Party. Adrien Salazar is a Campaign Strategist with Dēmos and one of the 2019 <a href="https://grist.org/grist-50/2019/">Grist 50 Fixers</a>. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/BillLipton">@BillLipton</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/NYWFP">@NYWFP</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/adrien4ej">@adrien4ej</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/Demos_Org">@Demos_Org</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/gnd4ny_divestny.jpg" alt="gnd4ny divestny" width="600" height="425" /></p> <p>(photo: John McCarten/NY City Council)</p> <hr /> <p>The window for meaningful action on climate change <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/">is narrowing</a>. Every year, as more <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171116105020.htm">climate impacts</a> <a href="https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/temperature-rise-locked-coming-decades-arctic">become “locked-in</a>,” changes we have to make to save the planet become even harder to implement. Right now, fossil fuel industry campaign contributions to politicians are holding back the solutions we need. &nbsp;</p> <p>If we want to pass climate policies that could actually help reverse the climate crisis, then we also need to fix our democratic system that gives too much power to wealthy donors and big polluters. In New York, a state where wealthy donors contribute an <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/blog/new-yorks-wealthiest-played-outsized-role-funding-2018-campaigns">outsized proportion</a> of funds to campaigns, we have the opportunity to build a public campaign financing system that can address this imbalance. These two crises are interconnected.</p> <p>Nationally, the fossil fuel industry has tightened its stranglehold on American politics. In the 2018 election cycle alone, $89 million in campaign contributions came from the <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E01">oil, gas</a>, and <a href="https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E1210">coal</a> industry with the vast majority going to Republicans. Contributions from the fossil fuels sector put a stop to <a href="https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/11/7/18069940/election-results-2018-energy-carbon-fracking-ballot-initiatives">ballot initiatives</a> that would have created landmark state climate and energy legislation here in New York—and across the nation.</p> <p>In the battle over fracked gas development in New York, oil, gas, and fracking support industries spent $10.7 million on contributions and $33.5 million on lobbying <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/attachments.readmedia.com/files/55339/original/Deep_Drilling_Deep_Pockets_2014--FinalVersion.pdf?1389624959">from 2007 to 2013, stalling several fracking restriction measures.</a> While grassroots activists eventually succeeded in pushing Governor Cuomo to take executive action to ban fracking, this influx of pro-fracking cash signals potentially bigger battles ahead as the state considers a 100% renewable energy target.</p> <p>In 2018 in Washington state, <a href="https://www.pdc.wa.gov/browse/campaign-explorer/committee?filer_id=NO1631%20507&amp;election_year=2018">$31.5 million</a> was pumped mostly from mostly out-of-state oil and gas industry into a campaign that ultimately defeated a carbon tax measure that would create revenue for renewable energy and vulnerable communities. And a proposition that would have set restrictions on gas fracking in Colorado was defeated after oil and gas spent over <a href="https://ballotpedia.org/Colorado_Proposition_112,_Minimum_Distance_Requirements_for_New_Oil,_Gas,_and_Fracking_Projects_Initiative_(2018)#cite_note-supportfin-53">$26 million</a> in the state.</p> <p>That is why a growing chorus of environmental advocates is calling for public financing of elections — which expands the contributions of small donors through public matching programs. With a fair elections system, elected officials would be more responsive to the electorate, an <a href="http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-october-2017/2/">overwhelming majority</a> of which believes we need bold policies to address climate change.</p> <p>One of our best hopes today is here in New York, where lawmakers are on the cusp of passing groundbreaking climate policy and the state budget has just included a commission mandated to develop a public financing system for the state.</p> <p>Public financing of elections would fundamentally change how Albany works, and <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/publication/small-donor-public-financing-ny">amplify the power</a> of working people and people of color. In the long term, fair elections mean that our elected officials will be more engaged with constituents in their districts and responsive to public concerns and needs.</p> <p>To implement an effective fair elections program, legislators and Governor Cuomo must appoint commissioners committed to expanding access to our democracy. A robust program would also include a 6-to-1 contribution match for low-dollar sums, lower contribution limits, and an independent agency to administer the program. In order to limit the influence of big donors who seek to block effective climate policy and other urgent reforms, the commission must act quickly and decisively. Kicking the can down the road is not an option.</p> <p>Simultaneously we can pass the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) to put New York on a path to 100% renewable energy economy-wide. The CCPA is ground-up policy, with <a href="https://www.nyrenews.org/">a coalition</a> of over 160 groups from across the state backing the proposal. The bill puts in place requirements for energy investments to go to disadvantaged communities, and working groups that include community group representatives to oversee implementation of state energy plans. This means more people could be part of shaping an equitable energy transition for New York.</p> <p>The impacts of climate change are not felt equally by all. We need to ensure a more inclusive political process to address everyone’s needs, especially those most vulnerable to climate impacts and pollution, and communities that have been historically excluded from political decision-making.</p> <p>We have the technology we need to begin a rapid transition to a renewable energy economy. Our ability to implement climate solutions is, therefore, a political question. With the <a href="http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us-2018/">majority of New Yorkers</a> in support of government action to curb climate change, a legislature that is more responsive to the electorate could usher the ambitious climate policies we need. Public financing and bold climate measures like the CCPA can reorient our politics to expand who is heard and who is at the table.</p> <p>***<br />Bill Lipton is the New York State Director of the Working Families Party. Adrien Salazar is a Campaign Strategist with Dēmos and one of the 2019 <a href="https://grist.org/grist-50/2019/">Grist 50 Fixers</a>. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/BillLipton">@BillLipton</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/NYWFP">@NYWFP</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/adrien4ej">@adrien4ej</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/Demos_Org">@Demos_Org</a>.</p> <p>

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Invest in City Parks to Improve Our Public Spaces and Save the Environment 2019-04-07T04:00:00+00:00 2019-04-07T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8427-invest-in-city-parks-to-improve-our-outdoor-playspaces-and-save-the-environment Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/d1yd7nbx0aafoht.jpg" alt="d1yd7nbx0aafoht" width="600" height="351" /></p> <p>(photo:&nbsp;@RiversideParkNY)</p> <hr /> <p>Parks are an essential part of any city’s infrastructure. Getting into nature at an urban park<a href="http://www.gardinergreenribbon.com/parks-mental-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> lowers stress, eases depression, and fosters happiness</a>. Parks help build community - people get out and meet each other, kids play together, mothers talk, residents meet neighbors.</p> <p>Parks are particularly invaluable in<a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/CUF_A_New_Leaf_.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> New York City, the nation’s most densely populated</a> city. And we are fortunate to have so many parks to enjoy! More than<a href="https://parkscore.tpl.org/rankings_advanced.php#sm.00014p0ek1ve9eexsar28bljzx7n3" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 81% of New Yorkers</a> are within walking distance of public green space. New Yorkers are visiting city parks in unprecedented numbers. The city’s parks get more than<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7769-revitalizing-new-york-s-aging-parks" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 100 million visitors</a> a year.</p> <p>More than just places to commune and recreate, these greenspaces are also one of the city’s most valuable environmental assets. They provide clean air, help mitigate climate change, connect residents with nature, and provide habitat for wildlife.</p> <p>Parks are a major source of the city’s urban tree canopy. That canopy removes<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 1,300 tons of pollutants</a> from the atmosphere and stores<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 1.2 million tons</a> of carbon per year. Trees are vital for<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> mitigating the urban heat island effect</a> and can lower air temperatures by up to nine degrees, cut air conditioning use by 30%, and reduce heating energy use by a further 20-50% -- all of which help decrease climate-changing emissions.</p> <p>The city’s parks and trees also contribute to our resiliency, capturing almost<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 2 billion gallons</a> of stormwater runoff each year.</p> <p>The New York City Parks Department manages<a href="https://www.nycgovparks.org/about" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 30,000 acres of land</a>, about 14% of the city. Sadly, Parks receives less than<a href="http://www.ny4p.org/what-we-do/play-fair" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 1% of the total city budget</a>, leaving our greenspaces at risk.</p> <p>This is shameful. While New York spends<a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/CUF_A_New_Leaf_.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> $178 per capita on its parks. Minneapolis spends $233, and Washington D.C. spends $270.</a></p> <p>The average city park has not seen a major renovation for more than 20 years. According to a<a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/CUF_A_New_Leaf_.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Center for an Urban Future</a> report, there are cracks in virtually every retaining wall in city parks, deteriorating bridges, toilets that flush directly into waterways, drainage systems that can’t handle the runoff from even a gentle rainfall, and myriad other problems. Managers can’t do any kind of systematic planning and major infrastructure projects are often put on hold for years.</p> <p>Inadequate funding for proper maintenance has also led to a rise of invasive species in parks. Just over a year ago,<a href="https://patch.com/new-york/parkslope/invasive-beetles-found-prospect-park" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> invasive beetles were found in Prospect Park</a> that cut off the supply of water and essential nutrients to trees.</p> <p>The great irony of all of this is that New York’s parks are iconic.<a href="http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/park-history.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Central Park</a> and<a href="https://ny.curbed.com/2013/8/7/10210902/25-little-known-facts-about-olmsted-vauxs-masterpiece" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Prospect Park</a> are routinely found on top parks lists.</p> <p>That’s why NYLCV has joined the Play Fair coalition with New Yorkers for Parks, DC 37, and more than 100 other groups.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ny4p.org/what-we-do/play-fair" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Play Fair</a> is a multi-year advocacy campaign for parks and this year, we are calling for increasing the Parks Department budget by $100 million for better maintenance.</p> <p>This investment could ensure that the city’s natural forests will begin to receive the proactive care they need to remain healthy and resilient in our changing climate. Maintenance workers would have the resources they need to protect our trees from invasive species and maintain the trees we need to absorb carbon and air pollution.</p> <p>It would go a long way towards fulfilling the goals of the 25-year<a href="http://naturalareasnyc.org/forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Forest Management Framework</a> for the restoration and conservation of the city’s hard-working natural forests, for which NYLCV has been advocating.</p> <p>Investing in maintaining our parks will make New York City more sustainable, improve resiliency, and conserve nature. It’s time we Play Fair for our parks.</p> <p>***<br />Julie Tighe is President of the New York League of Conservation Voters (<a href="https://nylcv.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NYLCV</a>), the only non-partisan, statewide environmental organization in New York that takes a pragmatic approach to fighting for clean water, healthy air, renewable energy, and open space. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/julietighe17" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@julietighe17</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/nylcv" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@nylcv</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/d1yd7nbx0aafoht.jpg" alt="d1yd7nbx0aafoht" width="600" height="351" /></p> <p>(photo:&nbsp;@RiversideParkNY)</p> <hr /> <p>Parks are an essential part of any city’s infrastructure. Getting into nature at an urban park<a href="http://www.gardinergreenribbon.com/parks-mental-health/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> lowers stress, eases depression, and fosters happiness</a>. Parks help build community - people get out and meet each other, kids play together, mothers talk, residents meet neighbors.</p> <p>Parks are particularly invaluable in<a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/CUF_A_New_Leaf_.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> New York City, the nation’s most densely populated</a> city. And we are fortunate to have so many parks to enjoy! More than<a href="https://parkscore.tpl.org/rankings_advanced.php#sm.00014p0ek1ve9eexsar28bljzx7n3" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 81% of New Yorkers</a> are within walking distance of public green space. New Yorkers are visiting city parks in unprecedented numbers. The city’s parks get more than<a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/opinion/7769-revitalizing-new-york-s-aging-parks" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 100 million visitors</a> a year.</p> <p>More than just places to commune and recreate, these greenspaces are also one of the city’s most valuable environmental assets. They provide clean air, help mitigate climate change, connect residents with nature, and provide habitat for wildlife.</p> <p>Parks are a major source of the city’s urban tree canopy. That canopy removes<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 1,300 tons of pollutants</a> from the atmosphere and stores<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 1.2 million tons</a> of carbon per year. Trees are vital for<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> mitigating the urban heat island effect</a> and can lower air temperatures by up to nine degrees, cut air conditioning use by 30%, and reduce heating energy use by a further 20-50% -- all of which help decrease climate-changing emissions.</p> <p>The city’s parks and trees also contribute to our resiliency, capturing almost<a href="http://www.naturalareasnyc.org/what-we-do#forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 2 billion gallons</a> of stormwater runoff each year.</p> <p>The New York City Parks Department manages<a href="https://www.nycgovparks.org/about" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 30,000 acres of land</a>, about 14% of the city. Sadly, Parks receives less than<a href="http://www.ny4p.org/what-we-do/play-fair" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> 1% of the total city budget</a>, leaving our greenspaces at risk.</p> <p>This is shameful. While New York spends<a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/CUF_A_New_Leaf_.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> $178 per capita on its parks. Minneapolis spends $233, and Washington D.C. spends $270.</a></p> <p>The average city park has not seen a major renovation for more than 20 years. According to a<a href="https://nycfuture.org/pdf/CUF_A_New_Leaf_.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Center for an Urban Future</a> report, there are cracks in virtually every retaining wall in city parks, deteriorating bridges, toilets that flush directly into waterways, drainage systems that can’t handle the runoff from even a gentle rainfall, and myriad other problems. Managers can’t do any kind of systematic planning and major infrastructure projects are often put on hold for years.</p> <p>Inadequate funding for proper maintenance has also led to a rise of invasive species in parks. Just over a year ago,<a href="https://patch.com/new-york/parkslope/invasive-beetles-found-prospect-park" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> invasive beetles were found in Prospect Park</a> that cut off the supply of water and essential nutrients to trees.</p> <p>The great irony of all of this is that New York’s parks are iconic.<a href="http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/park-history.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Central Park</a> and<a href="https://ny.curbed.com/2013/8/7/10210902/25-little-known-facts-about-olmsted-vauxs-masterpiece" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Prospect Park</a> are routinely found on top parks lists.</p> <p>That’s why NYLCV has joined the Play Fair coalition with New Yorkers for Parks, DC 37, and more than 100 other groups.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ny4p.org/what-we-do/play-fair" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Play Fair</a> is a multi-year advocacy campaign for parks and this year, we are calling for increasing the Parks Department budget by $100 million for better maintenance.</p> <p>This investment could ensure that the city’s natural forests will begin to receive the proactive care they need to remain healthy and resilient in our changing climate. Maintenance workers would have the resources they need to protect our trees from invasive species and maintain the trees we need to absorb carbon and air pollution.</p> <p>It would go a long way towards fulfilling the goals of the 25-year<a href="http://naturalareasnyc.org/forests" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> Forest Management Framework</a> for the restoration and conservation of the city’s hard-working natural forests, for which NYLCV has been advocating.</p> <p>Investing in maintaining our parks will make New York City more sustainable, improve resiliency, and conserve nature. It’s time we Play Fair for our parks.</p> <p>***<br />Julie Tighe is President of the New York League of Conservation Voters (<a href="https://nylcv.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NYLCV</a>), the only non-partisan, statewide environmental organization in New York that takes a pragmatic approach to fighting for clean water, healthy air, renewable energy, and open space. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/julietighe17" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@julietighe17</a> &amp; <a href="https://twitter.com/nylcv" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@nylcv</a>.</p> <p>

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We Can’t Effectively Plan for Climate Change without Real Community Dialogue and Long-term Planning 2019-04-04T04:00:00+00:00 2019-04-04T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8429-we-can-t-effectively-plan-for-climate-change-without-real-community-dialogue-and-long-term-planning Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/mayorbilldbl500.jpg" alt="mayorbilldbl500" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo:&nbsp;Paige Polk/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As we march toward a new climate reality, are we leaving the public behind? The New York City Panel on Climate Change’s (NPCC) 2019 report, released on March 15, offers a sobering new lens known as the Rapid Ice Melt scenario: the metropolitan region could experience 9.5 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century. That’s six inches short of the height of a regulation basketball hoop.</p> <p>The real ‘March madness’ spilling into April and beyond is that we have barely any plan or resources to adapt our broader metropolitan region and, most important, effectively educate and engage the public about the financial, environmental, and social tradeoffs that will become increasingly necessary as waters rise. These are hard conversations. But they are also an opportunity to engage in a dialogue about how we will shape our cities for generations to come.</p> <p>In this discussion, process and communication matter. Mayor de Blasio’s surprise roll-out on March 14 of the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency project, which features a precedent-setting plan to infill up to 500 feet of the East River to protect the Financial District, echoes cautionary tales of two other disputed plans that have fallen short of the kind of public engagement necessary to succeed.</p> <p>A substantially updated and fast-tracked proposal for the resiliency of Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the aborted Long Island City Amazon campus reveal an unwelcome common thread: big ideas that carry great importance for the economy, environment, and resilience of our city require understanding, buy-in, and a sense of how they fit into a plan for the larger whole, before they are presented to the public.</p> <p>Questions remain about the details of alternatives for the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency project, not to mention what follows. Does our city of water become a city of levees? What about equity? And are we setting a damaging standard for environmental impacts?</p> <p>It is hard not to consider the ghosts of past land use decisions that we have made, that have led to our present predicament: Water Street, Canal Street, Pike Slip, areas long since filled in to support our growth. Without a full understanding of (and say in) the trade-offs, it will be hard for the public to feel comfortable with a presumed conclusion.</p> <p>Adapting to climate change is increasingly not just a choice about strategy, but about what fundamental changes to our coastal cities we are open to. All options should be on the table, but the public needs to see the iterations that got us to this point. These are first steps that will ricochet across land use decisions throughout New York City and beyond. &nbsp;</p> <p>These are also decisions that require long-term plans, funding, and supporting governance frameworks that span beyond electoral cycles. Even if a Rapid Ice Melt scenario is not realized, the more modest sea level rise projections will mean that the Financial District, Coney Island, Rockaway Beach, Red Hook, the Historic Navy Yard, the Port of Newark, and the New Jersey Meadowlands, to mention a few, will all be under water daily by the end of the century if no action is taken. The questions expand: what is the future that we want, who will pay for this change, and how equitably will resiliency measures be distributed? We’re in this together.</p> <p>New York is not alone of course. Miami, Norfolk, New Orleans, and scores of other coastal cities nationally and globally face these realities. But few rival New York City’s indomitable force of economy, innovation, and diversity. If we can’t do it here, this begs the question: can we do it anywhere?</p> <p>While there was virtual radio silence greeting the release of the NPCC report, more than 1 million students across the nation and around the world walked out of class to express a serious statement about a need for real action to address our future. Those whose lives will be most affected by climate change get it.</p> <p>We must address a true national emergency, together, and come to conclusions, together. As we consider bold steps forward, we must be informed by science, and organize robust and real public discussion to address the urgency.&nbsp;Can we talk?</p> <p>***<br />Roland Lewis, President and CEO, and Kate Boicourt, Director of Resilience, are leaders of the Waterfront Alliance. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/OurWaterfront" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@OurWaterfront</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/mayorbilldbl500.jpg" alt="mayorbilldbl500" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo:&nbsp;Paige Polk/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>As we march toward a new climate reality, are we leaving the public behind? The New York City Panel on Climate Change’s (NPCC) 2019 report, released on March 15, offers a sobering new lens known as the Rapid Ice Melt scenario: the metropolitan region could experience 9.5 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century. That’s six inches short of the height of a regulation basketball hoop.</p> <p>The real ‘March madness’ spilling into April and beyond is that we have barely any plan or resources to adapt our broader metropolitan region and, most important, effectively educate and engage the public about the financial, environmental, and social tradeoffs that will become increasingly necessary as waters rise. These are hard conversations. But they are also an opportunity to engage in a dialogue about how we will shape our cities for generations to come.</p> <p>In this discussion, process and communication matter. Mayor de Blasio’s surprise roll-out on March 14 of the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency project, which features a precedent-setting plan to infill up to 500 feet of the East River to protect the Financial District, echoes cautionary tales of two other disputed plans that have fallen short of the kind of public engagement necessary to succeed.</p> <p>A substantially updated and fast-tracked proposal for the resiliency of Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the aborted Long Island City Amazon campus reveal an unwelcome common thread: big ideas that carry great importance for the economy, environment, and resilience of our city require understanding, buy-in, and a sense of how they fit into a plan for the larger whole, before they are presented to the public.</p> <p>Questions remain about the details of alternatives for the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency project, not to mention what follows. Does our city of water become a city of levees? What about equity? And are we setting a damaging standard for environmental impacts?</p> <p>It is hard not to consider the ghosts of past land use decisions that we have made, that have led to our present predicament: Water Street, Canal Street, Pike Slip, areas long since filled in to support our growth. Without a full understanding of (and say in) the trade-offs, it will be hard for the public to feel comfortable with a presumed conclusion.</p> <p>Adapting to climate change is increasingly not just a choice about strategy, but about what fundamental changes to our coastal cities we are open to. All options should be on the table, but the public needs to see the iterations that got us to this point. These are first steps that will ricochet across land use decisions throughout New York City and beyond. &nbsp;</p> <p>These are also decisions that require long-term plans, funding, and supporting governance frameworks that span beyond electoral cycles. Even if a Rapid Ice Melt scenario is not realized, the more modest sea level rise projections will mean that the Financial District, Coney Island, Rockaway Beach, Red Hook, the Historic Navy Yard, the Port of Newark, and the New Jersey Meadowlands, to mention a few, will all be under water daily by the end of the century if no action is taken. The questions expand: what is the future that we want, who will pay for this change, and how equitably will resiliency measures be distributed? We’re in this together.</p> <p>New York is not alone of course. Miami, Norfolk, New Orleans, and scores of other coastal cities nationally and globally face these realities. But few rival New York City’s indomitable force of economy, innovation, and diversity. If we can’t do it here, this begs the question: can we do it anywhere?</p> <p>While there was virtual radio silence greeting the release of the NPCC report, more than 1 million students across the nation and around the world walked out of class to express a serious statement about a need for real action to address our future. Those whose lives will be most affected by climate change get it.</p> <p>We must address a true national emergency, together, and come to conclusions, together. As we consider bold steps forward, we must be informed by science, and organize robust and real public discussion to address the urgency.&nbsp;Can we talk?</p> <p>***<br />Roland Lewis, President and CEO, and Kate Boicourt, Director of Resilience, are leaders of the Waterfront Alliance. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/OurWaterfront" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@OurWaterfront</a>.</p> <p>

***
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Seizing the Moment for Bold Climate, Green Job & Environmental Justice Legislation in New York 2019-03-18T04:00:00+00:00 2019-03-18T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8367-seizing-the-moment-for-bold-climate-green-job-environmental-justice-legislation-in-new-york Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/aerial-solar-panels.jpg" alt="aerial solar panels" width="600" height="379" /></p> <p>(photo: mayor's office on flickr)</p> <hr /> <p>On Friday, March 15, over 1 million students from 125 countries walked out of school to demand that we act on climate change. &nbsp;As New Yorkers, we’re already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change in our communities. We all remember the damage to homes, lives, and communities caused by Superstorm Sandy, and we know we’ll face more intense storms in the future. As summers get longer and hotter, more of our elderly neighbors will be at risk for heat stroke or even death.</p> <p>We also know that the impacts of climate change do not &nbsp;affect everyone the same way. From heat waves to hurricanes to sea-level rise, low-income communities, communities of color, and communities historically burdened by polluting and extractive industries are often more vulnerable to climate risks.</p> <p>But discussion of climate change does not have to be all doom and gloom. In New York State, we have an opportunity to move to a fossil-fuel-free economy while also investing in good, high-wage jobs and creating real investment in communities most impacted by the climate change.</p> <p>If we want a carbon-free future, or some would say, any future, we need to reduce our emissions from all sources and we need to set an enforceable timeline to do it.</p> <p>This crisis gives us an opportunity to re-imagine our priorities as a state. It will take planning and investments to move to a fossil-free future. We need to direct some of those investments to marginalized communities and people already hurt by the climate crisis. We need to make sure green jobs pay livable wages, and create opportunities among low- and middle-income communities across the state. We need to end our dependence on fossil fuels while building a better economy that does its best not to leave anyone &nbsp;behind.</p> <p>This is part of the reason why I sponsor the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), which has passed in the State Assembly three years in a row. &nbsp;This year has brought with it more opportunities, and the time is right to create a green and equitable future.</p> <p>The CCPA has the support of over 160 grassroots community, labor, and environmental organizations. It creates an enforceable timeline to move our entire economy to 100% renewable energy by no later than 2050. It is based on the timeline scientists recommend to avoid catastrophe. It also includes the strongest equity provisions in the nation to invest in communities hit hardest by the climate crisis.</p> <p>The CCPA is about more than just the environment. Under the bill, 40 percent of state funds directed towards greening our economy would go to environmental justice communities. That includes low-income communities, communities of color, and folks at high risk of being adversely impacted by major storms or sea-level rise, and communities already experiencing polluted air and water from carbon-burning facilities.</p> <p>The CCPA also sets wage and apprenticeship standards so that new green jobs are well-paying, livable jobs. It is estimated that the CCPA will generate the creation of 150,000 jobs related to the green energy transition, revitalizing communities and providing opportunities for New Yorkers across the state.</p> <p>We can and should get this done this year.</p> <p>***<br /> Assemblymember Steven Englebright represents parts of Long Island. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/SteveEngles" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@SteveEngles</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/aerial-solar-panels.jpg" alt="aerial solar panels" width="600" height="379" /></p> <p>(photo: mayor's office on flickr)</p> <hr /> <p>On Friday, March 15, over 1 million students from 125 countries walked out of school to demand that we act on climate change. &nbsp;As New Yorkers, we’re already seeing the devastating impacts of climate change in our communities. We all remember the damage to homes, lives, and communities caused by Superstorm Sandy, and we know we’ll face more intense storms in the future. As summers get longer and hotter, more of our elderly neighbors will be at risk for heat stroke or even death.</p> <p>We also know that the impacts of climate change do not &nbsp;affect everyone the same way. From heat waves to hurricanes to sea-level rise, low-income communities, communities of color, and communities historically burdened by polluting and extractive industries are often more vulnerable to climate risks.</p> <p>But discussion of climate change does not have to be all doom and gloom. In New York State, we have an opportunity to move to a fossil-fuel-free economy while also investing in good, high-wage jobs and creating real investment in communities most impacted by the climate change.</p> <p>If we want a carbon-free future, or some would say, any future, we need to reduce our emissions from all sources and we need to set an enforceable timeline to do it.</p> <p>This crisis gives us an opportunity to re-imagine our priorities as a state. It will take planning and investments to move to a fossil-free future. We need to direct some of those investments to marginalized communities and people already hurt by the climate crisis. We need to make sure green jobs pay livable wages, and create opportunities among low- and middle-income communities across the state. We need to end our dependence on fossil fuels while building a better economy that does its best not to leave anyone &nbsp;behind.</p> <p>This is part of the reason why I sponsor the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), which has passed in the State Assembly three years in a row. &nbsp;This year has brought with it more opportunities, and the time is right to create a green and equitable future.</p> <p>The CCPA has the support of over 160 grassroots community, labor, and environmental organizations. It creates an enforceable timeline to move our entire economy to 100% renewable energy by no later than 2050. It is based on the timeline scientists recommend to avoid catastrophe. It also includes the strongest equity provisions in the nation to invest in communities hit hardest by the climate crisis.</p> <p>The CCPA is about more than just the environment. Under the bill, 40 percent of state funds directed towards greening our economy would go to environmental justice communities. That includes low-income communities, communities of color, and folks at high risk of being adversely impacted by major storms or sea-level rise, and communities already experiencing polluted air and water from carbon-burning facilities.</p> <p>The CCPA also sets wage and apprenticeship standards so that new green jobs are well-paying, livable jobs. It is estimated that the CCPA will generate the creation of 150,000 jobs related to the green energy transition, revitalizing communities and providing opportunities for New Yorkers across the state.</p> <p>We can and should get this done this year.</p> <p>***<br /> Assemblymember Steven Englebright represents parts of Long Island. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/SteveEngles" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@SteveEngles</a>.</p> <p>

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What's The [Data] Point? 2040, New York's Energy Sector & Plan to Go Green 2019-01-31T05:00:00+00:00 2019-01-31T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8247-what-s-the-data-point-2040-new-york-s-energy-sector-plan-to-go-green Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/whats-the-data-point.jpg" alt="whats the data point" width="600" height="600" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What's The [Data] Point? Episode 63</strong><strong> -- 2040, Seth Hulkower [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes]</strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/sh.jpg" alt="S Hulkower" width="150" height="159" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />2040 is the year by which Governor Andrew Cuomo wants New York’s electric sector to go entirely green; that is -- to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in that sector of energy to zero. This is the key new goal announced by the Governor as part of the state’s “Green New Deal,” and it follows other ambitious environmental targets previously established. Seth Hulkower, Principal of Strategic Energy Advisory Services and author of a recent CBC report on New York's energy consumption, production and future, joined the podcast to discuss key related issues and his findings.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think: Ben Max of GG (<a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a>), Maria Doulis of CBC (<a href="https://twitter.com/MariaDoulis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@MariaDoulis</a>). Listen below or download wherever you get your podcasts, and subscribe to "What's The [Data] Point?"!</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/568000269%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-iZifQ&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><a id="part2"></a>Part 2: Panel</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/570636093&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2017/whats-the-data-point.jpg" alt="whats the data point" width="600" height="600" /></p> <hr /> <p><strong>What's The [Data] Point? Episode 63</strong><strong> -- 2040, Seth Hulkower [You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes]</strong></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/podcast18/sh.jpg" alt="S Hulkower" width="150" height="159" style="margin: 10px; float: left;" />2040 is the year by which Governor Andrew Cuomo wants New York’s electric sector to go entirely green; that is -- to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in that sector of energy to zero. This is the key new goal announced by the Governor as part of the state’s “Green New Deal,” and it follows other ambitious environmental targets previously established. Seth Hulkower, Principal of Strategic Energy Advisory Services and author of a recent CBC report on New York's energy consumption, production and future, joined the podcast to discuss key related issues and his findings.</p> <p>Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think: Ben Max of GG (<a href="https://twitter.com/TweetBenMax" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@TweetBenMax</a>), Maria Doulis of CBC (<a href="https://twitter.com/MariaDoulis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@MariaDoulis</a>). Listen below or download wherever you get your podcasts, and subscribe to "What's The [Data] Point?"!</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/568000269%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-iZifQ&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p><a id="part2"></a>Part 2: Panel</p> <p><iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/570636093&amp;color=%23ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_teaser=true" width="100%" height="185" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Mayor De Blasio Needs a Clearer Focus on Climate Change, with a More Aggressive Agenda 2019-01-29T05:00:00+00:00 2019-01-29T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/8238-mayor-de-blasio-needs-a-clearer-focus-on-climate-change-with-a-more-aggressive-agenda Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/fund-climate-ed.jpg" alt="fund climate ed" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor de Blasio <a href="https://www.politico.com/newsletters/new-york-playbook/2019/01/22/rikers-plan-bedeviled-by-local-opposition-whats-bloombergs-lane-in-2020-alicia-glens-exit-interview-379684" target="_blank" rel="noopener">plans</a> to travel nationally to discuss the ideas in his recent State of the City speech, but if he does, he won't be talking about climate change, because his speech didn't deal with it. He mentioned divesting $5 billion from fossil fuel stocks, but he never uttered the words "climate change" and said nothing about how New York City is progressing toward key goals for reducing its own climate impacts.</p> <p>The omission speaks volumes. De Blasio previously pledged the city would cut overall greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 (including cutting city fleet emissions 80% by 2035), and to stop 90% of our waste from going to landfills by 2030. He should be held accountable. Both goals are crucial for fighting climate change, and New York should lead the country and the world in implementing them. Instead, we're lagging. Of 27 megacities worldwide, New York uses <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/19/5985.abstract" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most energy</a> and generates by far <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/19/5985.abstract" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most solid waste</a>.</p> <p>How we handle our waste affects our emissions. Thirty percent of our waste stream is organic waste, 2 million tons of which rot in landfills each year, emitting more than 60,000 tons of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. To prevent that, in 2013 de Blasio <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2018/09/04/de-blasios-lofty-organics-goal-stalled-by-lack-of-funding-participation-591124" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pledged</a> a mandatory organic waste collection program within five years. It hasn’t materialized. We’re stuck with a limited, voluntary program that the Sanitation Department recently delayed expanding.</p> <p>This pulls a big punch in the fight against climate change, because our organic waste stream -- including the 1.2 million tons of food waste we generate annually and municipal wastewater from our 14 treatment plants -- is not only a source of climate pollution; it’s also a massive renewable energy resource. Methane from decomposing organics can be captured and refined into ultra-low-carbon renewable natural gas (RNG).</p> <p>As a transportation fuel, over its lifecycle RNG is <a href="https://sustainablebrands.com/read/cleantech/how-corporate-fleets-can-go-carbon-negative-now" target="_blank" rel="noopener">net carbon-negative</a>, meaning it prevents more GHG from getting into the atmosphere than it emits. Producing it captures more greenhouse gases that would otherwise escape, and using it to power buses and trucks displaces more carbon-intensive fossil fuels.</p> <p>Sacramento, Portland, Toronto, and other cities collect their organic waste and process its gases into RNG, which fuels their municipal vehicle fleets. Nationwide about 30,000 buses and trucks run on RNG.</p> <p>New York’s should, too. Getting city trucks and buses off diesel and onto RNG would vault us toward the mayor’s goals of cutting city fleet emissions 80% by 2035, and making New York’s air the cleanest of any major U.S. city by 2030.</p> <p>Diesel exhaust aggravates our sky-high asthma rates, afflicting over 13% of our youth – more in low-income neighborhoods where truck and bus depots are located. Natural gas buses and trucks with “near zero” engines running on RNG would cut health-damaging nitrogen oxide and particulate pollution to almost nothing.</p> <p>RNG is available in New York City via pipeline, and we could also tap our organic waste to produce it locally. Using it would save the city money over the service life of vehicles compared with "renewable diesel" or other alternatives.</p> <p>So what’s stopping us? New York City fleet agencies are resisting change and sticking with diesel. Rather than buying natural gas trucks and buses and fueling them with RNG, they’re buying diesel vehicles and experimenting with "renewable diesel," which has climate and air quality properties inferior to RNG’s. They <a href="https://www.waste360.com/fleets-technology/new-york-city-department-sanitation-called-adopt-rng" target="_blank" rel="noopener">argue</a> RNG trucks are slow to refuel and can’t plow snow, or that it would be better to migrate to electric vehicles.</p> <p>Those are excuses. RNG trucks are plenty powerful. Stations carrying RNG stand ready to fuel city vehicles now. Heavy-duty electric vehicles are years from service-ready and prohibitively expensive, and their emissions are only as good as the energy source charging the batteries -- mostly fossil fuels.</p> <p>The real obstacles to adopting RNG in New York are the same ones that kept the State of the City speech weak on climate change: lack of focused leadership and a preference for symbolic gestures over accountability for achieving concrete goals.</p> <p>The climate can’t afford that. The city already has over 1,000 natural gas vehicles, including buses, trucks, and vans, that could start running on RNG tomorrow, simply by taking out a new fuel procurement contract. That would be a welcome first step toward fleet sustainability. The logical destination is to stop buying dirty, outmoded diesel vehicles. &nbsp;</p> <p>Last year, concerned City Council members sent letters urging the <a href="https://energy-vision.org/pdf/NGTNews-NYC-Councilmembers-Fight-for-RNG-as-Transportation-Fuel.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">mayor</a> and <a href="https://energy-vision.org/pdf/Renewable_Natural_Gas_Letter_to_NYCT.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the MTA’s New York City Transit</a> to show environmental leadership by adopting RNG. If they don’t, the Council has power through legislative and budget processes to make city agencies to get started. It’s time to use it.</p> <p>***<br /> Joanna D. Underwood is the founder and a director of the NGO <a href="https://energy-vision.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Energy Vision</a>, which researches, and promotes technologies and strategies for a sustainable energy and transportation future. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/energy_vision" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@energy_vision</a>.</p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2019/fund-climate-ed.jpg" alt="fund climate ed" width="600" height="400" /></p> <p>(photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Mayor de Blasio <a href="https://www.politico.com/newsletters/new-york-playbook/2019/01/22/rikers-plan-bedeviled-by-local-opposition-whats-bloombergs-lane-in-2020-alicia-glens-exit-interview-379684" target="_blank" rel="noopener">plans</a> to travel nationally to discuss the ideas in his recent State of the City speech, but if he does, he won't be talking about climate change, because his speech didn't deal with it. He mentioned divesting $5 billion from fossil fuel stocks, but he never uttered the words "climate change" and said nothing about how New York City is progressing toward key goals for reducing its own climate impacts.</p> <p>The omission speaks volumes. De Blasio previously pledged the city would cut overall greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 (including cutting city fleet emissions 80% by 2035), and to stop 90% of our waste from going to landfills by 2030. He should be held accountable. Both goals are crucial for fighting climate change, and New York should lead the country and the world in implementing them. Instead, we're lagging. Of 27 megacities worldwide, New York uses <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/19/5985.abstract" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most energy</a> and generates by far <a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/112/19/5985.abstract" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most solid waste</a>.</p> <p>How we handle our waste affects our emissions. Thirty percent of our waste stream is organic waste, 2 million tons of which rot in landfills each year, emitting more than 60,000 tons of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. To prevent that, in 2013 de Blasio <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2018/09/04/de-blasios-lofty-organics-goal-stalled-by-lack-of-funding-participation-591124" target="_blank" rel="noopener">pledged</a> a mandatory organic waste collection program within five years. It hasn’t materialized. We’re stuck with a limited, voluntary program that the Sanitation Department recently delayed expanding.</p> <p>This pulls a big punch in the fight against climate change, because our organic waste stream -- including the 1.2 million tons of food waste we generate annually and municipal wastewater from our 14 treatment plants -- is not only a source of climate pollution; it’s also a massive renewable energy resource. Methane from decomposing organics can be captured and refined into ultra-low-carbon renewable natural gas (RNG).</p> <p>As a transportation fuel, over its lifecycle RNG is <a href="https://sustainablebrands.com/read/cleantech/how-corporate-fleets-can-go-carbon-negative-now" target="_blank" rel="noopener">net carbon-negative</a>, meaning it prevents more GHG from getting into the atmosphere than it emits. Producing it captures more greenhouse gases that would otherwise escape, and using it to power buses and trucks displaces more carbon-intensive fossil fuels.</p> <p>Sacramento, Portland, Toronto, and other cities collect their organic waste and process its gases into RNG, which fuels their municipal vehicle fleets. Nationwide about 30,000 buses and trucks run on RNG.</p> <p>New York’s should, too. Getting city trucks and buses off diesel and onto RNG would vault us toward the mayor’s goals of cutting city fleet emissions 80% by 2035, and making New York’s air the cleanest of any major U.S. city by 2030.</p> <p>Diesel exhaust aggravates our sky-high asthma rates, afflicting over 13% of our youth – more in low-income neighborhoods where truck and bus depots are located. Natural gas buses and trucks with “near zero” engines running on RNG would cut health-damaging nitrogen oxide and particulate pollution to almost nothing.</p> <p>RNG is available in New York City via pipeline, and we could also tap our organic waste to produce it locally. Using it would save the city money over the service life of vehicles compared with "renewable diesel" or other alternatives.</p> <p>So what’s stopping us? New York City fleet agencies are resisting change and sticking with diesel. Rather than buying natural gas trucks and buses and fueling them with RNG, they’re buying diesel vehicles and experimenting with "renewable diesel," which has climate and air quality properties inferior to RNG’s. They <a href="https://www.waste360.com/fleets-technology/new-york-city-department-sanitation-called-adopt-rng" target="_blank" rel="noopener">argue</a> RNG trucks are slow to refuel and can’t plow snow, or that it would be better to migrate to electric vehicles.</p> <p>Those are excuses. RNG trucks are plenty powerful. Stations carrying RNG stand ready to fuel city vehicles now. Heavy-duty electric vehicles are years from service-ready and prohibitively expensive, and their emissions are only as good as the energy source charging the batteries -- mostly fossil fuels.</p> <p>The real obstacles to adopting RNG in New York are the same ones that kept the State of the City speech weak on climate change: lack of focused leadership and a preference for symbolic gestures over accountability for achieving concrete goals.</p> <p>The climate can’t afford that. The city already has over 1,000 natural gas vehicles, including buses, trucks, and vans, that could start running on RNG tomorrow, simply by taking out a new fuel procurement contract. That would be a welcome first step toward fleet sustainability. The logical destination is to stop buying dirty, outmoded diesel vehicles. &nbsp;</p> <p>Last year, concerned City Council members sent letters urging the <a href="https://energy-vision.org/pdf/NGTNews-NYC-Councilmembers-Fight-for-RNG-as-Transportation-Fuel.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">mayor</a> and <a href="https://energy-vision.org/pdf/Renewable_Natural_Gas_Letter_to_NYCT.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the MTA’s New York City Transit</a> to show environmental leadership by adopting RNG. If they don’t, the Council has power through legislative and budget processes to make city agencies to get started. It’s time to use it.</p> <p>***<br /> Joanna D. Underwood is the founder and a director of the NGO <a href="https://energy-vision.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Energy Vision</a>, which researches, and promotes technologies and strategies for a sustainable energy and transportation future. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/energy_vision" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@energy_vision</a>.</p> <p>

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A 'Green New Deal' for New York and More: Where the Climate Change Conversation is Headed in 2019 2019-01-03T05:00:00+00:00 2019-01-03T05:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8174-a-green-new-deal-for-new-york-climate-change-conversation-is-headed-in-2019 Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/mbilldeblasiotours-bofeitc-lic.jpg" alt="mbilldeblasiotours bofeitc lic" width="600" /></p> <p>(Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project<br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1542727012992000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFY2bJ6BA6AesUwakCrfkUOqoU35A">Find the rest of the series here</a></em></p> <p>After an election where the issue <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8028-climate-change-and-what-to-do-about-it-largely-missing-from-governor-s-race" target="_blank" rel="noopener">saw little mainstream political attention</a>, climate change and what to do about it has come roaring back to the forefront of the New York political scene. Whether it’s because of a recent federal report <a href="https://www.vox.com/2018/11/24/18109883/climate-report-2018-national-assessment" target="_blank" rel="noopener">outlining the economic damage climate change will cause</a> if left unchecked, because New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has used her bully pulpit to <a href="https://earther.gizmodo.com/new-poll-shows-basically-everyone-likes-alexandria-ocas-1831158171" target="_blank" rel="noopener">push a Green New Deal</a>, or the potential for more action after Democrats won control of the state Senate, there’s increased attention on both new and old legislation to try to beat back rising oceans, extreme weather and their effects.</p> <p>At both the state and city levels, efforts to combat climate change are likely to be significant topics of discussion in 2019.</p> <p><strong>New York State</strong><br /> Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat starting his third term, has increasingly spoken out about the climate crisis during his time in office, even if his ideas and rhetoric haven’t always been what climate activists want from him. The state’s <a href="https://rev.ny.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reforming Energy Vision</a> has set energy efficiency goals (a 600 trillion British thermal units efficiency increase) and renewable energy goals (50 percent of electricity) for the year 2030, and Cuomo helped to establish the <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-new-us-climate-alliance-initiatives-mark-one-year-anniversary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">U.S. Climate Alliance</a>, a group of 16 states that have agreed to take measures to get their greenhouse gas emissions down to the level set by the Paris Agreement, despite President Donald Trump’s rejection of it. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The governor also made news with a pair of announcements recently. First, <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-dramatic-increase-energy-efficiency-and-energy-storage-targets-combat" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he announced</a> a new New York State Public Service Commission regulation that mandates utilities find ways to cut 31 trillion British thermal units of site energy (which is the heat and electricity consumed by a building), to move towards the goal of saving 185 TBtus 2025 (an energy efficiency framework that the governor said could create 50,000 jobs by 2025) along with an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars to develop better energy storage capabilities statewide.</p> <p>Second, Cuomo gave a December speech outlining his 2019 legislative agenda, and called for a Green New Deal for New York, though he gave few details. While Cuomo’s Green New Deal is unlikely to look like a state-level version of the one Ocasio-Cortez is pushing nationally, the dual goals of such a program are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by enhancing renewable energies and creating green jobs.</p> <p>In his speech Cuomo did lay out two central aspects of his Green New Deal vision, which he is expected to expand upon when he presents his State of the State policy book in January: getting the state’s electricity to 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2040 and eventually eliminating the state’s carbon footprint entirely. Cuomo also contrasted his belief and policy plans with that of the Trump administration’s attitude, saying that “federal government still denies climate change, remarkably turning a blind eye to their own government's scientific report.”</p> <p>Still, his initial position falls short of what the state’s most vocal climate change activists are calling for. Those activists, who have formed the NY Renews coalition, reacted to Cuomo’s announcement by putting together <a href="http://www.nyrenews.org/news/2018/12/18/movie-trailer-release-cuomosclimatecrisis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a slick movie trailer</a> with footage of climate disasters and <a href="http://www.nyrenews.org/news/2018/12/17/cuomo-says-he-will-move-ny-off-fossil-fuels-must-execute-vision-by-passing-climate-and-community-protection-act" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a press release</a> pointing out that electricity is 20 percent of the state’s total carbon footprint, all in service of continuing to push their gold standard: the Climate and Community Protection Act.</p> <p>The CCPA, which has passed the state Assembly for three years only to be stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate that is about to turn to Democratic hands, establishes what advocates have called a “climate justice” framework. In addition to setting legislative targets for the use of renewable energy (50 percent of energy statewide by 2030) and carbon elimination (100 percent fossil fuel free by 2050), the bill also directs any transition project getting state funding to pay a prevailing wage and directs 40 percent of whatever state investment goes towards climate mitigation efforts to go to low-income communities and communities most threatened by climate change. All of which, according to the bill’s prime sponsor in the Senate, state Senator Brad Hoylman, add up to what the Manhattan Democrat says is the best approach to a Green New Deal, “a three-pronged approach: jobs, labor [standards], and protecting vulnerable communities.”</p> <p>What the ramp up to transition away from fossil fuels will look like is not laid out in detail by the bill, instead the text requires the creation of a New York State Climate Action Council and directs the Department of Environmental Conservation to establish greenhouse gas emissions limits and regulations to achieve those limits. The bill also establishes a Climate Justice Working Group, which would study how to expand renewable energy into disadvantaged communities and would “have a role in determining what that investment would look like,” Hoylman said.</p> <p>Whether that means a heavy hand from the state or not is something that’s been up for debate, and a place where Cuomo’s proclamation means he may soon weigh in. In a previous interview with Gotham Gazette, three-time Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins -- who has been running on a Green New Deal for New York since the 2010 race -- suggested that it would take “a World War II-scale mobilization” to prevent catastrophic damage from climate change. “During World War II we nationalized 25 percent of manufacturing in this country to make sure we could turn on a dime to make the weapons we used to beat the Nazis. The private investor-owned utilities and energy companies, they haven't led the way to clean energy, so we may need more public ownership,” Hawkins suggested.</p> <p>In Hoylman’s view, the state doesn’t have to seize the means of production or even take on the role of primary investor, as much as it should shape where the market moves money.</p> <p>“I think it's a combination of private investment, but with some prodding by the state to direct investment into low-income communities and communities of color, which otherwise might be passed by the marketplace,” Hoylman said of getting renewable power infrastructure into low-income communities. “I see government's role as a corrective one and making certain that that we've solved the collective action problem, which is basically doing nothing and allowing the marketplace to proceed unabated and our dependence on fossil fuels to increase. That might be less expensive in the short term, but it’s going to be more expensive in the long term. And then secondly, protecting those New Yorkers who often get left behind in these types of transitions, in particular where they’re reliant on outdated modes of energy like fossil fuels.”</p> <p>As the CCPA has languished in the Republican-ruled state Senate, and the years tick closer to 2030, Hoylman said he understands the need to move fast on the legislation when his party takes the helm.</p> <p>“I think so,” Hoylman said when asked if it was imperative that the CCPA is passed in 2019. “You know, we're running out of time on a lot of aspects, but certainly, if we're going to move as quickly as other states like California, we need to pass this bill as soon as possible.”</p> <p>Hoylman also said that he is sensitive to the challenge that Democrats have in passing the CCPA and the Climate and Community Investment Act, which would help fund transition efforts through a carbon tax, while avoiding the pitfall of looking like the tax-hiking and regulation-spewing liberals Republicans warned they would be, but that inaction would be even worse.</p> <p>“I think a Democratic Senate will be very sensitive to raising taxes of any sort without a real understanding of what the point behind them is,” Holyman said. “We think the Climate and Community Protection Act actually creates revenue, given the costs associated with climate change, so I would ask, ‘what is the cost of us not doing anything.’”</p> <p>While the governor hasn’t signaled a position on the bill, and seems to have left the specifics for his Green New Deal for his State of the State, Hoylman praised moves that Cuomo has made on the climate with his executive powers, like establishing a commitment to <a href="https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/new-york-gov-cuomo-pushes-ambitious-offshore-wind-energy-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030</a> and banning fracking. With both houses of the Legislature and the governor himself invested in the larger idea of transitioning away from fossil fuels, Hoylman said he sees a paradigm “that will push Albany to act more decisively on the issue.”</p> <p>Whatever any final Green New Deal for New York looks like will be a product of negotiations between Cuomo and the Legislature, possibly as part of the late March or early April state budget agreement for the next fiscal year.</p> <p>The new chair of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, <a href="https://twitter.com/toddkaminsky/status/1072503462703874051" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State Senator Todd Kaminsky</a> of Long Island has said he is excited to get to work fighting climate change.&nbsp;“In the face of climate change and the dire threat it poses to New York and our planet, our State must emerge as an environmental leader and demonstrate that we understand the urgency at hand and the need to act accordingly," Kaminsky said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. "I plan to hit the ground running as chair to take more aggressive steps to protect our environment and New Yorkers, including holding hearings on the Climate and Community Protection Act, and enacting legislation in support of other resiliency and renewable energy efforts.”</p> <p>As Kaminsky indicated, while the CCPA is the main event of this year’s legislative session when it comes to climate change activism, there’s a lot on the undercard that the state has been grappling with. While public transit is usually thought of as the domain of New York City and the surrounding metro area, and the governor’s Buffalo Billion II program <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7353-with-phase-one-going-on-trial-cuomo-s-buffalo-investment-moves-ahead-with-changes-and-broken-reform-promises" target="_blank" rel="noopener">doesn’t have the cleanest lineage</a>, advocates for a Buffalo light rail expansion <a href="https://buffalochronicle.com/2018/12/27/tim-kennedy-may-be-willing-to-fight-for-a-wider-expansion-of-the-light-rail-system/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">are hoping</a> Senator Tim Kennedy’s place as chair of the Transportation Committee will mean more funding for expanding the system as the city <a href="https://buffalonews.com/2018/11/20/nfta-proposes-new-cheaper-route-for-metro-rail-extension-to-amherst/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">determines the best path forward</a>.</p> <p>Elsewhere, the state is pushing for renewable energy with an <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-issues-new-yorks-large-scale-offshore-wind-solicitation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">RFP out asking for vendors to deliver</a> 800 megawatts of offshore wind power (with winners to be announced in the spring of 2019) which was <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/2018-stateofthestatebook.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a goal in Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State book</a>, and the NY-Sun initiative, which offers education and financing for solar projects and has supported almost 90,000 solar projects around the state.</p> <p>There’s also the New York Green Bank, <a href="https://greenbank.ny.gov/Investments/Portfolio" target="_blank" rel="noopener">which has invested over $500 million in areas</a> like community solar, energy efficiency and storage projects. The Cuomo administration has continued work <a href="https://www.architectmagazine.com/technology/retrofitny-aims-to-turn-new-york-states-affordable-housing-stock-deep-green_o" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on its RetrofitNY project</a>, an effort to find ways to affordably and scalably retrofit multifamily buildings in order to cut their emissions, although the effort hasn’t made it out of the “<a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/RetrofitNY/Timeline" target="_blank" rel="noopener">proof of concept and design phase yet</a>.”</p> <p>Outside of the Legislature and the governor’s mansion, there’s also the ongoing argument over Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s management of the state pension fund, which is worth more than $200 billion. Environmental advocates have pressed DiNapoli to divest the state’s pension funds from fossil fuel companies, a move that they say would not only hurt companies who contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, <a href="https://350.org/press-release/dinapoli-cost-nys-22-billion-divestment/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">but also make the state pension fund more money</a>. DiNapoli, for his part, has argued <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-27/new-york-city-albany-part-ways-on-divesting-fossil-fuel-stocks" target="_blank" rel="noopener">against making any sudden, sweeping moves</a> without studying their impact, and that <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-lovett-dinapoli-disinvestment-pension-fund-climate-change-20181216-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he has a fiduciary duty</a> to get the best return possible for the state, while also putting $10 billion in state pension funds in a low-emissions and clean energy indexes. He’s also argued that by being an activist investor, he can push the companies toward more climate-friendly policies.</p> <p><strong>New York City</strong><br /> There are also proposals for New York City to take action, independent of the state, with ongoing action to cut emissions and a pair of high-profile bills that were introduced at the end of 2018. The de Blasio administration has <a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/11/02/on-the-environment-de-blasio-defied-expectations-with-bold-goals-but-now-must-deliver/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">included climate change in the OneNYC agenda</a>, setting goals to make New York “<a href="https://onenyc.cityofnewyork.us/visions/sustainability/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most sustainable big city in the world</a>” and “<a href="https://onenyc.cityofnewyork.us/visions/resiliency/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most resilient big city in the world</a>.”</p> <p>Part of OneNYC is the de Blasio administration’s target for emissions cutbacks, the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability put out a <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/sustainability/downloads/pdf/publications/New%20York%20City's%20Roadmap%20to%2080%20x%2050_Final.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Roadmap to 80x50</a> in 2016 that set a path for emissions reductions by way of energy standards for buildings, expanding the use of renewable energy, increasing the use of mass transit and reducing the amount of waste sent to city landfills.</p> <p>The city is set to begin construction on the “Big U,” a coastal resiliency measure made up of parkland and berms around lower Manhattan to protect it from flooding, in spring 2020, <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/493-18/fact-sheet-de-blasio-administration-faster-updated-plan-east-side-coastal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">according to the most recent news</a> provided by the de Blasio administration. The updated plan for the flood protection, which involves raising the East River Park, <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-the-citys-odd-storm-splurge-20181025-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has been criticized though</a>, for making the project costlier in what critics say is an effort to not inconvenience drivers on the FDR Drive and avoiding dealing with the Parks Department’s lack of any kind of post-storm maintenance budget. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/agenda19v2-a.jpg" alt="agenda19v2 a" width="250" height="127" style="margin-right: 10px; float: left;" /></a></strong>After the mayor got out ahead of <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/nyregion/de-blasio-mayor-environment-buildings-emissions.html?mcubz=3&amp;module=inline" target="_blank" rel="noopener">allies and even his office</a> with proposed energy efficiency mandates regarding retrofitting and caps on the amount of fossil fuels buildings can burn, the exact ideas he’d proposed <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2018/04/25/de-blasios-energy-efficiency-mandates-languish-with-no-deal-in-sight-382038" target="_blank" rel="noopener">never really took off</a>. But, a <a href="https://council.nyc.gov/costa-constantinides/2018/11/20/constantinides-announces-bill-with-speaker-johnson-to-significantly-reduce-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-large-buildings-by-2030/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recently-introduced pair of bills</a> from Queens City Council Member Costa Constantinides run with the idea, and if passed, would introduce new emissions standards for many buildings 25,000 square feet or larger. Since large buildings account for two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, backers of the Constantinides bills see retrofitting large buildings by doing things like installing energy efficient HVAC systems, hot water heaters, and electricity and lighting, as one of the most effective ways for the city to cut those emissions 80 percent by 2050. The bills, which had their first hearing in December, would open an Office of Building Energy Performance that can set new buildings emissions standards and also establish a financing program to help the owners of some buildings finance efforts to retrofit their properties to reach the emissions targets the office sets out.</p> <p>“We need to start where the emissions are, and these large buildings are the right place to do it,” Constantinides said at a hearing to introduce the bills, noting that while buildings larger than 50,000 square feet only make up less than one percent of the city’s building stock, they give off 30 percent of the city’s total emissions. However, while the bill’s supporters have praised the exemption of buildings with at least one rent-stabilized unit from the most stringent efficiency requirements as a necessary way to protect residents from potential rent hikes from upgrades counted as major capital improvements, <a href="https://commercialobserver.com/2018/12/landlords-unions-engineers-rebny-take-aim-at-building-retrofitting-bill/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">critics have called the provision a major problem</a>. (In the event that the state rent laws are changed to prevent landlords from passing MCIs on to rent-stabilized tenants though, organizations like New York Communities for Change have expressed support for writing buildings with rent-stabilized units into the law.)</p> <p>Mark Chambers, director of the de Blasio administration’s Office of Sustainability, told the City Council that the laws could create over 14,000 jobs related to the efforts to retrofit buildings and praised the establishment of a New York City <a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Commercial-Property-Assessed-Clean-Energy" target="_blank" rel="noopener">PACE financing program</a> as a way to make sure that property owners themselves aren’t burdened by the efficiency upgrades.</p> <p>Elsewhere, activists who started a campaign this summer to <a href="https://www.publicbanknyc.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">establish a public bank in New York City</a> recently rallied at City Hall to connect the potential municipal bank with efforts to fight climate change on a local level. First, advocates say that taking billions of city deposits away from larger banks like Chase and Bank of America, who <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/21/top-global-banks-still-lend-billions-extract-fossil-fuels" target="_blank" rel="noopener">finance fossil fuel extraction</a> with some of their money, would be as effective a strike against fossil fuel reliance as the city’s underway efforts to divest its public pension funds from fossil fuel stock. Additionally, advocates say that a public bank would allow for cheaper financing of small-scale renewable energy projects that will be necessary in the coming transition away from fossil fuels.</p> <p>“Waterfront solar projects, community solar projects, all of those kind of projects could be funded more easily if the intermediaries that were trying to do the good work didn't have to go to their very limited pots of money or could get money out of somebody bigger who wasn't predatory,” Stephan Edel, the director of the New York Working Families Project at the Working Families Party, told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>And while Edel had praise for the pension funds and the state’s green bank as effective tools in the transition to a green economy, he also said that a public bank could lend to projects that return on their investment somewhat slower. “A public bank still has to make safe investments, has to make that limited return, but it can look at a longer term set of benefits and it can look at investments that can have a long-term benefit because it's not looking to get its return in a quarter or make nine percent,” he said.</p> <p>As for the proposal’s legislative future, the New Economy Project’s Ali Issa told Gotham Gazette that the&nbsp;Public Bank NYC coalition is working with “an array of state and city elected officials, including Council Member Mark Levine” to put a proposal for the bank forward in 2019.</p> <p>Levine, for his part, provided a statement saying, “though we have made progress divesting from the fossil fuel industry, we must go further. Our City should put its own money to work for New Yorkers through a public bank, which would supercharge investments in critical projects throughout the five boroughs, and return financial power to the people and businesses that need it most.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project<br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1542727012992000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFY2bJ6BA6AesUwakCrfkUOqoU35A">Find the rest of the series here</a></em></p> <p>

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by Dave Colon, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/mbilldeblasiotours-bofeitc-lic.jpg" alt="mbilldeblasiotours bofeitc lic" width="600" /></p> <p>(Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)</p> <hr /> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project<br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1542727012992000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFY2bJ6BA6AesUwakCrfkUOqoU35A">Find the rest of the series here</a></em></p> <p>After an election where the issue <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8028-climate-change-and-what-to-do-about-it-largely-missing-from-governor-s-race" target="_blank" rel="noopener">saw little mainstream political attention</a>, climate change and what to do about it has come roaring back to the forefront of the New York political scene. Whether it’s because of a recent federal report <a href="https://www.vox.com/2018/11/24/18109883/climate-report-2018-national-assessment" target="_blank" rel="noopener">outlining the economic damage climate change will cause</a> if left unchecked, because New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has used her bully pulpit to <a href="https://earther.gizmodo.com/new-poll-shows-basically-everyone-likes-alexandria-ocas-1831158171" target="_blank" rel="noopener">push a Green New Deal</a>, or the potential for more action after Democrats won control of the state Senate, there’s increased attention on both new and old legislation to try to beat back rising oceans, extreme weather and their effects.</p> <p>At both the state and city levels, efforts to combat climate change are likely to be significant topics of discussion in 2019.</p> <p><strong>New York State</strong><br /> Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat starting his third term, has increasingly spoken out about the climate crisis during his time in office, even if his ideas and rhetoric haven’t always been what climate activists want from him. The state’s <a href="https://rev.ny.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reforming Energy Vision</a> has set energy efficiency goals (a 600 trillion British thermal units efficiency increase) and renewable energy goals (50 percent of electricity) for the year 2030, and Cuomo helped to establish the <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-new-us-climate-alliance-initiatives-mark-one-year-anniversary" target="_blank" rel="noopener">U.S. Climate Alliance</a>, a group of 16 states that have agreed to take measures to get their greenhouse gas emissions down to the level set by the Paris Agreement, despite President Donald Trump’s rejection of it. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The governor also made news with a pair of announcements recently. First, <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-dramatic-increase-energy-efficiency-and-energy-storage-targets-combat" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he announced</a> a new New York State Public Service Commission regulation that mandates utilities find ways to cut 31 trillion British thermal units of site energy (which is the heat and electricity consumed by a building), to move towards the goal of saving 185 TBtus 2025 (an energy efficiency framework that the governor said could create 50,000 jobs by 2025) along with an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars to develop better energy storage capabilities statewide.</p> <p>Second, Cuomo gave a December speech outlining his 2019 legislative agenda, and called for a Green New Deal for New York, though he gave few details. While Cuomo’s Green New Deal is unlikely to look like a state-level version of the one Ocasio-Cortez is pushing nationally, the dual goals of such a program are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by enhancing renewable energies and creating green jobs.</p> <p>In his speech Cuomo did lay out two central aspects of his Green New Deal vision, which he is expected to expand upon when he presents his State of the State policy book in January: getting the state’s electricity to 100 percent carbon neutrality by 2040 and eventually eliminating the state’s carbon footprint entirely. Cuomo also contrasted his belief and policy plans with that of the Trump administration’s attitude, saying that “federal government still denies climate change, remarkably turning a blind eye to their own government's scientific report.”</p> <p>Still, his initial position falls short of what the state’s most vocal climate change activists are calling for. Those activists, who have formed the NY Renews coalition, reacted to Cuomo’s announcement by putting together <a href="http://www.nyrenews.org/news/2018/12/18/movie-trailer-release-cuomosclimatecrisis" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a slick movie trailer</a> with footage of climate disasters and <a href="http://www.nyrenews.org/news/2018/12/17/cuomo-says-he-will-move-ny-off-fossil-fuels-must-execute-vision-by-passing-climate-and-community-protection-act" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a press release</a> pointing out that electricity is 20 percent of the state’s total carbon footprint, all in service of continuing to push their gold standard: the Climate and Community Protection Act.</p> <p>The CCPA, which has passed the state Assembly for three years only to be stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate that is about to turn to Democratic hands, establishes what advocates have called a “climate justice” framework. In addition to setting legislative targets for the use of renewable energy (50 percent of energy statewide by 2030) and carbon elimination (100 percent fossil fuel free by 2050), the bill also directs any transition project getting state funding to pay a prevailing wage and directs 40 percent of whatever state investment goes towards climate mitigation efforts to go to low-income communities and communities most threatened by climate change. All of which, according to the bill’s prime sponsor in the Senate, state Senator Brad Hoylman, add up to what the Manhattan Democrat says is the best approach to a Green New Deal, “a three-pronged approach: jobs, labor [standards], and protecting vulnerable communities.”</p> <p>What the ramp up to transition away from fossil fuels will look like is not laid out in detail by the bill, instead the text requires the creation of a New York State Climate Action Council and directs the Department of Environmental Conservation to establish greenhouse gas emissions limits and regulations to achieve those limits. The bill also establishes a Climate Justice Working Group, which would study how to expand renewable energy into disadvantaged communities and would “have a role in determining what that investment would look like,” Hoylman said.</p> <p>Whether that means a heavy hand from the state or not is something that’s been up for debate, and a place where Cuomo’s proclamation means he may soon weigh in. In a previous interview with Gotham Gazette, three-time Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins -- who has been running on a Green New Deal for New York since the 2010 race -- suggested that it would take “a World War II-scale mobilization” to prevent catastrophic damage from climate change. “During World War II we nationalized 25 percent of manufacturing in this country to make sure we could turn on a dime to make the weapons we used to beat the Nazis. The private investor-owned utilities and energy companies, they haven't led the way to clean energy, so we may need more public ownership,” Hawkins suggested.</p> <p>In Hoylman’s view, the state doesn’t have to seize the means of production or even take on the role of primary investor, as much as it should shape where the market moves money.</p> <p>“I think it's a combination of private investment, but with some prodding by the state to direct investment into low-income communities and communities of color, which otherwise might be passed by the marketplace,” Hoylman said of getting renewable power infrastructure into low-income communities. “I see government's role as a corrective one and making certain that that we've solved the collective action problem, which is basically doing nothing and allowing the marketplace to proceed unabated and our dependence on fossil fuels to increase. That might be less expensive in the short term, but it’s going to be more expensive in the long term. And then secondly, protecting those New Yorkers who often get left behind in these types of transitions, in particular where they’re reliant on outdated modes of energy like fossil fuels.”</p> <p>As the CCPA has languished in the Republican-ruled state Senate, and the years tick closer to 2030, Hoylman said he understands the need to move fast on the legislation when his party takes the helm.</p> <p>“I think so,” Hoylman said when asked if it was imperative that the CCPA is passed in 2019. “You know, we're running out of time on a lot of aspects, but certainly, if we're going to move as quickly as other states like California, we need to pass this bill as soon as possible.”</p> <p>Hoylman also said that he is sensitive to the challenge that Democrats have in passing the CCPA and the Climate and Community Investment Act, which would help fund transition efforts through a carbon tax, while avoiding the pitfall of looking like the tax-hiking and regulation-spewing liberals Republicans warned they would be, but that inaction would be even worse.</p> <p>“I think a Democratic Senate will be very sensitive to raising taxes of any sort without a real understanding of what the point behind them is,” Holyman said. “We think the Climate and Community Protection Act actually creates revenue, given the costs associated with climate change, so I would ask, ‘what is the cost of us not doing anything.’”</p> <p>While the governor hasn’t signaled a position on the bill, and seems to have left the specifics for his Green New Deal for his State of the State, Hoylman praised moves that Cuomo has made on the climate with his executive powers, like establishing a commitment to <a href="https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/new-york-gov-cuomo-pushes-ambitious-offshore-wind-energy-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030</a> and banning fracking. With both houses of the Legislature and the governor himself invested in the larger idea of transitioning away from fossil fuels, Hoylman said he sees a paradigm “that will push Albany to act more decisively on the issue.”</p> <p>Whatever any final Green New Deal for New York looks like will be a product of negotiations between Cuomo and the Legislature, possibly as part of the late March or early April state budget agreement for the next fiscal year.</p> <p>The new chair of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee, <a href="https://twitter.com/toddkaminsky/status/1072503462703874051" target="_blank" rel="noopener">State Senator Todd Kaminsky</a> of Long Island has said he is excited to get to work fighting climate change.&nbsp;“In the face of climate change and the dire threat it poses to New York and our planet, our State must emerge as an environmental leader and demonstrate that we understand the urgency at hand and the need to act accordingly," Kaminsky said in a statement to Gotham Gazette. "I plan to hit the ground running as chair to take more aggressive steps to protect our environment and New Yorkers, including holding hearings on the Climate and Community Protection Act, and enacting legislation in support of other resiliency and renewable energy efforts.”</p> <p>As Kaminsky indicated, while the CCPA is the main event of this year’s legislative session when it comes to climate change activism, there’s a lot on the undercard that the state has been grappling with. While public transit is usually thought of as the domain of New York City and the surrounding metro area, and the governor’s Buffalo Billion II program <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7353-with-phase-one-going-on-trial-cuomo-s-buffalo-investment-moves-ahead-with-changes-and-broken-reform-promises" target="_blank" rel="noopener">doesn’t have the cleanest lineage</a>, advocates for a Buffalo light rail expansion <a href="https://buffalochronicle.com/2018/12/27/tim-kennedy-may-be-willing-to-fight-for-a-wider-expansion-of-the-light-rail-system/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">are hoping</a> Senator Tim Kennedy’s place as chair of the Transportation Committee will mean more funding for expanding the system as the city <a href="https://buffalonews.com/2018/11/20/nfta-proposes-new-cheaper-route-for-metro-rail-extension-to-amherst/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">determines the best path forward</a>.</p> <p>Elsewhere, the state is pushing for renewable energy with an <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-issues-new-yorks-large-scale-offshore-wind-solicitation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">RFP out asking for vendors to deliver</a> 800 megawatts of offshore wind power (with winners to be announced in the spring of 2019) which was <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/2018-stateofthestatebook.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a goal in Cuomo’s 2018 State of the State book</a>, and the NY-Sun initiative, which offers education and financing for solar projects and has supported almost 90,000 solar projects around the state.</p> <p>There’s also the New York Green Bank, <a href="https://greenbank.ny.gov/Investments/Portfolio" target="_blank" rel="noopener">which has invested over $500 million in areas</a> like community solar, energy efficiency and storage projects. The Cuomo administration has continued work <a href="https://www.architectmagazine.com/technology/retrofitny-aims-to-turn-new-york-states-affordable-housing-stock-deep-green_o" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on its RetrofitNY project</a>, an effort to find ways to affordably and scalably retrofit multifamily buildings in order to cut their emissions, although the effort hasn’t made it out of the “<a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/RetrofitNY/Timeline" target="_blank" rel="noopener">proof of concept and design phase yet</a>.”</p> <p>Outside of the Legislature and the governor’s mansion, there’s also the ongoing argument over Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s management of the state pension fund, which is worth more than $200 billion. Environmental advocates have pressed DiNapoli to divest the state’s pension funds from fossil fuel companies, a move that they say would not only hurt companies who contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, <a href="https://350.org/press-release/dinapoli-cost-nys-22-billion-divestment/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">but also make the state pension fund more money</a>. DiNapoli, for his part, has argued <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-27/new-york-city-albany-part-ways-on-divesting-fossil-fuel-stocks" target="_blank" rel="noopener">against making any sudden, sweeping moves</a> without studying their impact, and that <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-pol-lovett-dinapoli-disinvestment-pension-fund-climate-change-20181216-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">he has a fiduciary duty</a> to get the best return possible for the state, while also putting $10 billion in state pension funds in a low-emissions and clean energy indexes. He’s also argued that by being an activist investor, he can push the companies toward more climate-friendly policies.</p> <p><strong>New York City</strong><br /> There are also proposals for New York City to take action, independent of the state, with ongoing action to cut emissions and a pair of high-profile bills that were introduced at the end of 2018. The de Blasio administration has <a href="https://citylimits.org/2017/11/02/on-the-environment-de-blasio-defied-expectations-with-bold-goals-but-now-must-deliver/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">included climate change in the OneNYC agenda</a>, setting goals to make New York “<a href="https://onenyc.cityofnewyork.us/visions/sustainability/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most sustainable big city in the world</a>” and “<a href="https://onenyc.cityofnewyork.us/visions/resiliency/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most resilient big city in the world</a>.”</p> <p>Part of OneNYC is the de Blasio administration’s target for emissions cutbacks, the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability put out a <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/sustainability/downloads/pdf/publications/New%20York%20City's%20Roadmap%20to%2080%20x%2050_Final.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Roadmap to 80x50</a> in 2016 that set a path for emissions reductions by way of energy standards for buildings, expanding the use of renewable energy, increasing the use of mass transit and reducing the amount of waste sent to city landfills.</p> <p>The city is set to begin construction on the “Big U,” a coastal resiliency measure made up of parkland and berms around lower Manhattan to protect it from flooding, in spring 2020, <a href="https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/493-18/fact-sheet-de-blasio-administration-faster-updated-plan-east-side-coastal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">according to the most recent news</a> provided by the de Blasio administration. The updated plan for the flood protection, which involves raising the East River Park, <a href="https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-the-citys-odd-storm-splurge-20181025-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">has been criticized though</a>, for making the project costlier in what critics say is an effort to not inconvenience drivers on the FDR Drive and avoiding dealing with the Parks Department’s lack of any kind of post-storm maintenance budget. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019"><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/agenda19v2-a.jpg" alt="agenda19v2 a" width="250" height="127" style="margin-right: 10px; float: left;" /></a></strong>After the mayor got out ahead of <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/nyregion/de-blasio-mayor-environment-buildings-emissions.html?mcubz=3&amp;module=inline" target="_blank" rel="noopener">allies and even his office</a> with proposed energy efficiency mandates regarding retrofitting and caps on the amount of fossil fuels buildings can burn, the exact ideas he’d proposed <a href="https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2018/04/25/de-blasios-energy-efficiency-mandates-languish-with-no-deal-in-sight-382038" target="_blank" rel="noopener">never really took off</a>. But, a <a href="https://council.nyc.gov/costa-constantinides/2018/11/20/constantinides-announces-bill-with-speaker-johnson-to-significantly-reduce-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-large-buildings-by-2030/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">recently-introduced pair of bills</a> from Queens City Council Member Costa Constantinides run with the idea, and if passed, would introduce new emissions standards for many buildings 25,000 square feet or larger. Since large buildings account for two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, backers of the Constantinides bills see retrofitting large buildings by doing things like installing energy efficient HVAC systems, hot water heaters, and electricity and lighting, as one of the most effective ways for the city to cut those emissions 80 percent by 2050. The bills, which had their first hearing in December, would open an Office of Building Energy Performance that can set new buildings emissions standards and also establish a financing program to help the owners of some buildings finance efforts to retrofit their properties to reach the emissions targets the office sets out.</p> <p>“We need to start where the emissions are, and these large buildings are the right place to do it,” Constantinides said at a hearing to introduce the bills, noting that while buildings larger than 50,000 square feet only make up less than one percent of the city’s building stock, they give off 30 percent of the city’s total emissions. However, while the bill’s supporters have praised the exemption of buildings with at least one rent-stabilized unit from the most stringent efficiency requirements as a necessary way to protect residents from potential rent hikes from upgrades counted as major capital improvements, <a href="https://commercialobserver.com/2018/12/landlords-unions-engineers-rebny-take-aim-at-building-retrofitting-bill/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">critics have called the provision a major problem</a>. (In the event that the state rent laws are changed to prevent landlords from passing MCIs on to rent-stabilized tenants though, organizations like New York Communities for Change have expressed support for writing buildings with rent-stabilized units into the law.)</p> <p>Mark Chambers, director of the de Blasio administration’s Office of Sustainability, told the City Council that the laws could create over 14,000 jobs related to the efforts to retrofit buildings and praised the establishment of a New York City <a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Commercial-Property-Assessed-Clean-Energy" target="_blank" rel="noopener">PACE financing program</a> as a way to make sure that property owners themselves aren’t burdened by the efficiency upgrades.</p> <p>Elsewhere, activists who started a campaign this summer to <a href="https://www.publicbanknyc.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">establish a public bank in New York City</a> recently rallied at City Hall to connect the potential municipal bank with efforts to fight climate change on a local level. First, advocates say that taking billions of city deposits away from larger banks like Chase and Bank of America, who <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/21/top-global-banks-still-lend-billions-extract-fossil-fuels" target="_blank" rel="noopener">finance fossil fuel extraction</a> with some of their money, would be as effective a strike against fossil fuel reliance as the city’s underway efforts to divest its public pension funds from fossil fuel stock. Additionally, advocates say that a public bank would allow for cheaper financing of small-scale renewable energy projects that will be necessary in the coming transition away from fossil fuels.</p> <p>“Waterfront solar projects, community solar projects, all of those kind of projects could be funded more easily if the intermediaries that were trying to do the good work didn't have to go to their very limited pots of money or could get money out of somebody bigger who wasn't predatory,” Stephan Edel, the director of the New York Working Families Project at the Working Families Party, told Gotham Gazette.</p> <p>And while Edel had praise for the pension funds and the state’s green bank as effective tools in the transition to a green economy, he also said that a public bank could lend to projects that return on their investment somewhat slower. “A public bank still has to make safe investments, has to make that limited return, but it can look at a longer term set of benefits and it can look at investments that can have a long-term benefit because it's not looking to get its return in a quarter or make nine percent,” he said.</p> <p>As for the proposal’s legislative future, the New Economy Project’s Ali Issa told Gotham Gazette that the&nbsp;Public Bank NYC coalition is working with “an array of state and city elected officials, including Council Member Mark Levine” to put a proposal for the bank forward in 2019.</p> <p>Levine, for his part, provided a statement saying, “though we have made progress divesting from the fossil fuel industry, we must go further. Our City should put its own money to work for New Yorkers through a public bank, which would supercharge investments in critical projects throughout the five boroughs, and return financial power to the people and businesses that need it most.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>This is part of AGENDA 2019, a joint Gotham Gazette-City Limits project<br /><a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8029-agenda-2019&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1542727012992000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFY2bJ6BA6AesUwakCrfkUOqoU35A">Find the rest of the series here</a></em></p> <p>

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by Dave Colon, Gotham Gazette
     

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</p>
Climate Change, and What To Do About It, Largely Missing from Governor’s Race 2018-10-30T04:00:00+00:00 2018-10-30T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8028-climate-change-and-what-to-do-about-it-largely-missing-from-governor-s-race Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/21450272963_b04fbcd901_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo Gore climate change" width="600" height="404" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo and former VP Gore in 2015 (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York’s 2018 gubernatorial election has largely been eclipsed, like so many things in United States politics, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8011-during-debate-molinaro-attacks-while-cuomo-ties-opponent-to-trump" target="_blank" rel="noopener">by a massive Trump-shaped shadow</a>. Within that shadow, Andrew Cuomo and Marc Molinaro have argued about the health of upstate New York, management of the MTA, and dueling corruption charges, among other topics. But one looming issue, climate change, has seemed to escape the notice of the two candidates, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report" target="_blank" rel="noopener">even as news related to it becomes more dire</a> and New York’s Legislature sits on proposals to shift the state to a 100 percent renewable energy environment.</p> <p>“I would say no, but that's generally my answer for most candidates,” Aracely Jimenez-Hudis, a member of the climate justice organization Sunrise NYC said when asked if she thought either of the major party gubernatorial candidates were talking enough about climate change. And while Jimenez-Hudis works with a group whose main focus is climate change, the fact remains that it simply isn’t an issue either candidate has decided to address this year.</p> <p>Molinaro doesn’t include a platform on climate change or the environment on his website, but told Gotham Gazette that he accepts climate change as science and that it is a trend impacted by humans; he believes in “the inherent capacity of man to overcome any challenge.” Molinaro also said he agrees with the governor’s idea to get New York to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, but that rather than the state investing large amounts of money in private companies, government “ought to create an economic climate where the industry can actually compete and thrive.” He doesn’t believe in “cutting checks,” he said, but he is open to the right blend of tax incentives and regulatory changes to encourage a greener economy.</p> <p>Beyond the question of energy sources, Molinaro said that congestion pricing as a funding mechanism for expanding public transportation and reducing street congestion, and changing zoning codes to reduce damage to the environment and make clean energy use more effective were ideas he’d look to in order to reduce emissions as a whole.</p> <p>On the trail, though, the Dutchess county executive and Republican nominee for governor has said he’s open to a “pilot program” allowing fracking in New York’s Southern Tier and has expressed a worry that New York is <a href="http://www.wellsvilledaily.com/news/20180415/five-questions-with-marc-molinaro" target="_blank" rel="noopener">missing out on an economic boom</a> by not allowing the practice. While Molinaro has <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7581-in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument" target="_blank" rel="noopener">touted his past endorsements by the Sierra Club</a> as part of his proof that he’s a different kind of Republican, the organization <a href="https://atlantic2.sierraclub.org/content/sierra-club-endorsements-new-york-state" target="_blank" rel="noopener">endorsed Cuomo over him</a> this year.</p> <p>On his own campaign website, <a href="https://www.andrewcuomo.com/issues" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo writes that his administration</a> has made New York a national leader on climate change, casting it through the lens of resisting the Trump administration, writing that he’s “picking up the mantle of climate leadership where Washington is failing.” His office has funded <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-more-204-million-improve-storm-resiliency-long-island" target="_blank" rel="noopener">over $20 million worth of flood protection efforts</a> on Long Island this year, and the Sierra Club endorsement for the governor notes his leadership in banning fracking in 2014 and lauds him for committing New York to generating 50 percent of its energy from renewable powers like wind and solar by 2030, but the biggest instance of the governor’s name being attached to the word “climate” this campaign was when he suggested <a href="https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/09/gov_cuomo_blames_weather_for_ny_state_population_decline.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">“climate-based” reasons</a> were driving people’s decision to move out of upstate New York.</p> <p>Cuomo has campaigned little on forward-looking policy of any kind, mostly highlighting past accomplishments and staking out anti-Trump ground. When he has discussed a third-term agenda, climate change is background noise. His <a href="https://www.andrewcuomo.com/news/governor-cuomo-and-long-island-senate-candidates-propose-nine-point-plan-make-long-island" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nine Point Pledge for a Stronger Long Island</a>, signed with each of the Democratic state Senate candidates on the island, contains passing references to “resiliency projects” and passing the governor’s bill outlawing offshore drilling in New York.</p> <p>The governor has faced his own criticism on environmental policy, including an <a href="http://bedfordandbowery.com/2018/08/8-arrested-at-governors-office-as-they-demand-cuomo-renounce-fossil-fuel-donations/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">occupation of his Manhattan office</a> earlier this summer by activists with Sunrise over his refusal to sign a pledge to not take fossil fuel-linked campaign donations and for not getting behind the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/economy/130-opinion/7855-terrified-about-climate-change-vote-cynthia-nixon" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Climate and Community Protection Act</a>. The CCPA, a bill that seeks to move New York to a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050, with power grid transitions and resiliency efforts <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2b4sxM265uZNUlDakpBdUFUY0VQWnlPdjYtdnViZFdBQU9R/view" target="_blank" rel="noopener">paid for by a tax on greenhouse gas emissions</a>, got a boost of media and campaign attention during the primary campaign when Cynthia Nixon threw her support behind it. Nixon called the CCPA <a href="https://twitter.com/nychange/status/1055246479508586501" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most important work of her campaign</a> at a recent gala for New York Communities for Change, work that got her <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/economy/130-opinion/7855-terrified-about-climate-change-vote-cynthia-nixon" target="_blank" rel="noopener">kudos from environmental activists</a>. But even in the primary’s lone debate, <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cuomo-nixon-debate_us_5b8743cde4b0162f471f5667" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the bill only came up briefly</a>.</p> <p>There was no discussion of climate change in the single Cuomo-Molinaro debate, which took place last week. It’s an unfortunate turn of events according to Howie Hawkins, the Green Party’s gubernatorial candidate, because New York could set the tone for the way the rest of the country reacts to the issue. “What we do counts,” Hawkins said, citing the size of New York’s economy <a href="http://www.visualcapitalist.com/map-state-economies-countries/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">compared to the economies of entire nations</a>, “and we think what it does for the economy, besides what it does for the climate, will set an example that other people will want to emulate. Just like Franklin Roosevelt did some public employment when he was governor and it became a model for the jobs programs of the New Deal, I think we set an example [with a Green New Deal], we get ahead of the curve and other people are gonna want to follow our lead.”</p> <p>Hawkins sees a transition to a green economy, part of what he calls a <a href="http://www.howiehawkins.org/issues_green_new_deal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Green New Deal</a>, as one of the many issues residents north of Westchester say have been ignored this year. “The thing about a serious climate action program is it’s a big economic stimulus, particularly upstate where you have to do a lot of energy installation,” Hawkins said, adding that the region could also become a manufacturing hub for green technology that could create jobs and be an example for the rest of the country.</p> <p>Cuomo has in fact focused some of his energies on creating more affordable forms of power through the <a href="https://rev.ny.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reforming the Energy Vision</a> program, the umbrella strategy to move New York towards 50 percent renewable power by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gasses by 40 percent from their levels in the 1990s. Within that strategy, New York State has partnered with utility companies to work on <a href="https://rev.ny.gov/rev-demo-projects-1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">projects testing out ways</a> to efficiently deliver green energy, has invested in workforce training in green energy and companies related to the field and has taken “<a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/About/History-of-NYSERDA" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a more market-based, decentralized approach</a>” to shifting the state to renewable power. The state also has a high-stakes partnership with Tesla <a href="https://buffalonews.com/2018/08/01/for-tesla-the-clock-is-ticking-to-bring-jobs-to-buffalo/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">that’s supposed to bring 1,460 jobs to Buffalo</a>, following the company’s acquisition of SolarCity, the solar panel manufacturer the <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-new-solarcity-gigafactory-complex-riverbend" target="_blank" rel="noopener">state invested $750 million in</a> (an investment that was later discovered <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7558-post-percoco-conviction-kaloyeros-trial-likely-to-further-stain-cuomo-administration" target="_blank" rel="noopener">to be caught up in Alain Kaloyeros’ bid-rigging scheme</a>).</p> <p>The lack of climate change talk has “been the pattern in the presidential debates, and certainly in New York-level debates,” Pete Sikora, an activist with New York Communities for Change focused on environmental issues, told Gotham Gazette. “Climate change is an important issue to voters, but if you're looking at Molinaro versus Cuomo, it hasn't become a defining contrast.” NYCC endorsed Nixon in the primary.</p> <p>Hudis-Jimenez said that Nixon’s focus on the the Climate and Community Protection Act allowed her and other canvassers to do specific outreach directly to voters through climate canvasses for Nixon, which was helpful to spread the bill’s message, but ultimately not as scalable as something beamed into homes across the state.</p> <p>“More people will tune into a debate probably than are contacted by canvassing or phone-banking, so the issues that get talked about during a debate are the ones voters will think about when they're going to the polls,” she said. “So the fact that climate change got maybe five seconds [in the Cuomo-Nixon debate] said a lot about the work that still needs to be done getting climate change to be a top electoral issue.”</p> <p>“I don't know why it's not a huge issue,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told Gotham Gazette. “You would think, considering Long Island and Westchester, so much of the region was underwater, you would think it would be more of a discussion.” Part of the reason for its absence as a front and center issue, Brewer speculated, was that unlike the everyday experience for New Yorkers that is a broken subway, “we don't experience water coming into our buildings everyday.”</p> <p>It is getting to be more of an issue though, Brewer noted, though there can be a subtlety to it that hides the more dire nature of the crisis. “There's a difference between a big storm and just plain old surge. Even if you don’t get a big storm, the water surge is a different issue. So you could get something like no storm and still a high water situation,” she said, noting she got a high water alert before this weekend’s Nor’easter.</p> <p>The absence of climate change and what to do about it from the broader gubernatorial campaign also chills questions of whether even the proposals that Nixon pushed go far enough, or if something like the Green Party-supported <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/s5908" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Off Fossil Fuels Act</a> is the right path for the state. That bill, sponsored by Assemblymember William Colton and state Senator Brad Hoylman (who also just <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/op-ed/saving-new-york-climate-change" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wrote an op-ed calling on the state to pass the CCPA</a>), both Democrats, would move New York to 100 percent clean energy by 2030, a necessary step in the face of the continuing climate crisis and what Hawkins said were insufficient proposals by Cuomo and Nixon, whose proposals both called for New York to use 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030.</p> <p>“They want 50 percent clean electricity by 2030, but electricity is just 28 percent of the carbon footprint, it doesn't deal with transportation, industry, agriculture or buildings,” Hawkins said. You get 50 percent of that reduced, that's 14 percent really,” he said as a critique of both approaches.</p> <p>Even if climate change hasn’t taken a star turn in any general election campaigns getting media attention, activists like Sikora and Hudis-Jimenez are gearing up to keep fighting after the election. “Working towards a goal of 50 percent renewable energy is half-assing it,” Hudis-Jimenez said, promising to continue to keep the pressure on legislators to be more ambitious.</p> <p>“Whether the governor is talking about it now or not, what we want is for him to embrace [the CCPA], put it in the budget and pass it,” Sikora said. “We'll have a Senate and Assembly that is Democratic, hopefully, and in that scenario, this legislation should pass and the governor should lead the charge. We'll be coming hard on passage of that kind of legislation.”</p> <p>

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by Dave Colon, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/21450272963_b04fbcd901_z.jpg" alt="Cuomo Gore climate change" width="600" height="404" /></p> <p>Gov. Cuomo and former VP Gore in 2015 (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>New York’s 2018 gubernatorial election has largely been eclipsed, like so many things in United States politics, <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8011-during-debate-molinaro-attacks-while-cuomo-ties-opponent-to-trump" target="_blank" rel="noopener">by a massive Trump-shaped shadow</a>. Within that shadow, Andrew Cuomo and Marc Molinaro have argued about the health of upstate New York, management of the MTA, and dueling corruption charges, among other topics. But one looming issue, climate change, has seemed to escape the notice of the two candidates, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report" target="_blank" rel="noopener">even as news related to it becomes more dire</a> and New York’s Legislature sits on proposals to shift the state to a 100 percent renewable energy environment.</p> <p>“I would say no, but that's generally my answer for most candidates,” Aracely Jimenez-Hudis, a member of the climate justice organization Sunrise NYC said when asked if she thought either of the major party gubernatorial candidates were talking enough about climate change. And while Jimenez-Hudis works with a group whose main focus is climate change, the fact remains that it simply isn’t an issue either candidate has decided to address this year.</p> <p>Molinaro doesn’t include a platform on climate change or the environment on his website, but told Gotham Gazette that he accepts climate change as science and that it is a trend impacted by humans; he believes in “the inherent capacity of man to overcome any challenge.” Molinaro also said he agrees with the governor’s idea to get New York to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, but that rather than the state investing large amounts of money in private companies, government “ought to create an economic climate where the industry can actually compete and thrive.” He doesn’t believe in “cutting checks,” he said, but he is open to the right blend of tax incentives and regulatory changes to encourage a greener economy.</p> <p>Beyond the question of energy sources, Molinaro said that congestion pricing as a funding mechanism for expanding public transportation and reducing street congestion, and changing zoning codes to reduce damage to the environment and make clean energy use more effective were ideas he’d look to in order to reduce emissions as a whole.</p> <p>On the trail, though, the Dutchess county executive and Republican nominee for governor has said he’s open to a “pilot program” allowing fracking in New York’s Southern Tier and has expressed a worry that New York is <a href="http://www.wellsvilledaily.com/news/20180415/five-questions-with-marc-molinaro" target="_blank" rel="noopener">missing out on an economic boom</a> by not allowing the practice. While Molinaro has <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7581-in-run-for-governor-marc-molinaro-will-make-a-character-argument" target="_blank" rel="noopener">touted his past endorsements by the Sierra Club</a> as part of his proof that he’s a different kind of Republican, the organization <a href="https://atlantic2.sierraclub.org/content/sierra-club-endorsements-new-york-state" target="_blank" rel="noopener">endorsed Cuomo over him</a> this year.</p> <p>On his own campaign website, <a href="https://www.andrewcuomo.com/issues" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cuomo writes that his administration</a> has made New York a national leader on climate change, casting it through the lens of resisting the Trump administration, writing that he’s “picking up the mantle of climate leadership where Washington is failing.” His office has funded <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-more-204-million-improve-storm-resiliency-long-island" target="_blank" rel="noopener">over $20 million worth of flood protection efforts</a> on Long Island this year, and the Sierra Club endorsement for the governor notes his leadership in banning fracking in 2014 and lauds him for committing New York to generating 50 percent of its energy from renewable powers like wind and solar by 2030, but the biggest instance of the governor’s name being attached to the word “climate” this campaign was when he suggested <a href="https://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2018/09/gov_cuomo_blames_weather_for_ny_state_population_decline.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">“climate-based” reasons</a> were driving people’s decision to move out of upstate New York.</p> <p>Cuomo has campaigned little on forward-looking policy of any kind, mostly highlighting past accomplishments and staking out anti-Trump ground. When he has discussed a third-term agenda, climate change is background noise. His <a href="https://www.andrewcuomo.com/news/governor-cuomo-and-long-island-senate-candidates-propose-nine-point-plan-make-long-island" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nine Point Pledge for a Stronger Long Island</a>, signed with each of the Democratic state Senate candidates on the island, contains passing references to “resiliency projects” and passing the governor’s bill outlawing offshore drilling in New York.</p> <p>The governor has faced his own criticism on environmental policy, including an <a href="http://bedfordandbowery.com/2018/08/8-arrested-at-governors-office-as-they-demand-cuomo-renounce-fossil-fuel-donations/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">occupation of his Manhattan office</a> earlier this summer by activists with Sunrise over his refusal to sign a pledge to not take fossil fuel-linked campaign donations and for not getting behind the <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/economy/130-opinion/7855-terrified-about-climate-change-vote-cynthia-nixon" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Climate and Community Protection Act</a>. The CCPA, a bill that seeks to move New York to a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2050, with power grid transitions and resiliency efforts <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2b4sxM265uZNUlDakpBdUFUY0VQWnlPdjYtdnViZFdBQU9R/view" target="_blank" rel="noopener">paid for by a tax on greenhouse gas emissions</a>, got a boost of media and campaign attention during the primary campaign when Cynthia Nixon threw her support behind it. Nixon called the CCPA <a href="https://twitter.com/nychange/status/1055246479508586501" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the most important work of her campaign</a> at a recent gala for New York Communities for Change, work that got her <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/economy/130-opinion/7855-terrified-about-climate-change-vote-cynthia-nixon" target="_blank" rel="noopener">kudos from environmental activists</a>. But even in the primary’s lone debate, <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cuomo-nixon-debate_us_5b8743cde4b0162f471f5667" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the bill only came up briefly</a>.</p> <p>There was no discussion of climate change in the single Cuomo-Molinaro debate, which took place last week. It’s an unfortunate turn of events according to Howie Hawkins, the Green Party’s gubernatorial candidate, because New York could set the tone for the way the rest of the country reacts to the issue. “What we do counts,” Hawkins said, citing the size of New York’s economy <a href="http://www.visualcapitalist.com/map-state-economies-countries/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">compared to the economies of entire nations</a>, “and we think what it does for the economy, besides what it does for the climate, will set an example that other people will want to emulate. Just like Franklin Roosevelt did some public employment when he was governor and it became a model for the jobs programs of the New Deal, I think we set an example [with a Green New Deal], we get ahead of the curve and other people are gonna want to follow our lead.”</p> <p>Hawkins sees a transition to a green economy, part of what he calls a <a href="http://www.howiehawkins.org/issues_green_new_deal" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Green New Deal</a>, as one of the many issues residents north of Westchester say have been ignored this year. “The thing about a serious climate action program is it’s a big economic stimulus, particularly upstate where you have to do a lot of energy installation,” Hawkins said, adding that the region could also become a manufacturing hub for green technology that could create jobs and be an example for the rest of the country.</p> <p>Cuomo has in fact focused some of his energies on creating more affordable forms of power through the <a href="https://rev.ny.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reforming the Energy Vision</a> program, the umbrella strategy to move New York towards 50 percent renewable power by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gasses by 40 percent from their levels in the 1990s. Within that strategy, New York State has partnered with utility companies to work on <a href="https://rev.ny.gov/rev-demo-projects-1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">projects testing out ways</a> to efficiently deliver green energy, has invested in workforce training in green energy and companies related to the field and has taken “<a href="https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/About/History-of-NYSERDA" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a more market-based, decentralized approach</a>” to shifting the state to renewable power. The state also has a high-stakes partnership with Tesla <a href="https://buffalonews.com/2018/08/01/for-tesla-the-clock-is-ticking-to-bring-jobs-to-buffalo/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">that’s supposed to bring 1,460 jobs to Buffalo</a>, following the company’s acquisition of SolarCity, the solar panel manufacturer the <a href="https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-new-solarcity-gigafactory-complex-riverbend" target="_blank" rel="noopener">state invested $750 million in</a> (an investment that was later discovered <a href="http://www.gothamgazette.com/state/7558-post-percoco-conviction-kaloyeros-trial-likely-to-further-stain-cuomo-administration" target="_blank" rel="noopener">to be caught up in Alain Kaloyeros’ bid-rigging scheme</a>).</p> <p>The lack of climate change talk has “been the pattern in the presidential debates, and certainly in New York-level debates,” Pete Sikora, an activist with New York Communities for Change focused on environmental issues, told Gotham Gazette. “Climate change is an important issue to voters, but if you're looking at Molinaro versus Cuomo, it hasn't become a defining contrast.” NYCC endorsed Nixon in the primary.</p> <p>Hudis-Jimenez said that Nixon’s focus on the the Climate and Community Protection Act allowed her and other canvassers to do specific outreach directly to voters through climate canvasses for Nixon, which was helpful to spread the bill’s message, but ultimately not as scalable as something beamed into homes across the state.</p> <p>“More people will tune into a debate probably than are contacted by canvassing or phone-banking, so the issues that get talked about during a debate are the ones voters will think about when they're going to the polls,” she said. “So the fact that climate change got maybe five seconds [in the Cuomo-Nixon debate] said a lot about the work that still needs to be done getting climate change to be a top electoral issue.”</p> <p>“I don't know why it's not a huge issue,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told Gotham Gazette. “You would think, considering Long Island and Westchester, so much of the region was underwater, you would think it would be more of a discussion.” Part of the reason for its absence as a front and center issue, Brewer speculated, was that unlike the everyday experience for New Yorkers that is a broken subway, “we don't experience water coming into our buildings everyday.”</p> <p>It is getting to be more of an issue though, Brewer noted, though there can be a subtlety to it that hides the more dire nature of the crisis. “There's a difference between a big storm and just plain old surge. Even if you don’t get a big storm, the water surge is a different issue. So you could get something like no storm and still a high water situation,” she said, noting she got a high water alert before this weekend’s Nor’easter.</p> <p>The absence of climate change and what to do about it from the broader gubernatorial campaign also chills questions of whether even the proposals that Nixon pushed go far enough, or if something like the Green Party-supported <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2017/s5908" target="_blank" rel="noopener">New York Off Fossil Fuels Act</a> is the right path for the state. That bill, sponsored by Assemblymember William Colton and state Senator Brad Hoylman (who also just <a href="https://www.crainsnewyork.com/op-ed/saving-new-york-climate-change" target="_blank" rel="noopener">wrote an op-ed calling on the state to pass the CCPA</a>), both Democrats, would move New York to 100 percent clean energy by 2030, a necessary step in the face of the continuing climate crisis and what Hawkins said were insufficient proposals by Cuomo and Nixon, whose proposals both called for New York to use 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030.</p> <p>“They want 50 percent clean electricity by 2030, but electricity is just 28 percent of the carbon footprint, it doesn't deal with transportation, industry, agriculture or buildings,” Hawkins said. You get 50 percent of that reduced, that's 14 percent really,” he said as a critique of both approaches.</p> <p>Even if climate change hasn’t taken a star turn in any general election campaigns getting media attention, activists like Sikora and Hudis-Jimenez are gearing up to keep fighting after the election. “Working towards a goal of 50 percent renewable energy is half-assing it,” Hudis-Jimenez said, promising to continue to keep the pressure on legislators to be more ambitious.</p> <p>“Whether the governor is talking about it now or not, what we want is for him to embrace [the CCPA], put it in the budget and pass it,” Sikora said. “We'll have a Senate and Assembly that is Democratic, hopefully, and in that scenario, this legislation should pass and the governor should lead the charge. We'll be coming hard on passage of that kind of legislation.”</p> <p>

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by Dave Colon, Gotham Gazette
     

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Terrified About Climate Change? Vote Cynthia Nixon 2018-08-09T04:00:00+00:00 2018-08-09T04:00:00+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7855-terrified-about-climate-change-vote-cynthia-nixon Ben Max <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/cynthia-nixon-gas.jpg" alt="cynthia nixon gas" width="600" height="357" /></p> <p>Cynthia Nixon (photo: @CynthiaNixon)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo seeks to portray himself as a leading environmentalist. But in reality, he is too wrapped up in his own political ambitions to be the 21st century climate champion New York needs.</p> <p>The surface is rosy. Governor Cuomo formed the impressive sounding U.S. Climate Alliance, he banned fracking (while building infrastructure to transport fracked gas from nearby states) and is expanding wind farming in the state.</p> <p>Take a closer look, however, and it’s much seedier.</p> <p>While portraying himself as a climate leader, Cuomo is hoarding hundreds of thousands of dollars that he has accepted from fossil fuel companies in his campaign war chest. Recently, after facing pressure from constituent advocates and Cynthia Nixon’s candidacy, he said he would no longer accept fossil fuel-funded donations. But then he walked back that pledge, saying he misheard a question, and signaling that he is more concerned with financially positioning himself to run for President -- let’s be honest: he does not need $30 million to run for Governor -- than the wellbeing of his constituents. &nbsp;</p> <p>With thousands of New Yorkers still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, wildfires scorching the West, and Puerto Rico still not recovered from Maria, there is no excuse for a Governor who claims to be a climate champion but accepts blood money from the fossil fuel industry.</p> <p>Governor Cuomo has also refused to publicly support the Climate and Community Protection Act, which would shift New York off fossil fuels to a 100% renewable economy by 2050 and has the support of over 100 unions, community groups, and advocacy organizations across New York State. The CCPA has passed the State Assembly multiple times, but has stalled in the Senate, partially due to lack of support from the Governor. When asked about the legislation’s provision for completely shifting New York state to renewable energy over the next 30 years, he insisted it isn’t “practical” to make that rapid a transition.</p> <p>Polar ice caps will not stop melting to accommodate Andrew Cuomo’s political ambitions nor his sense of practicality. Ask any scientist, and they will tell you that we no longer have time for an incremental approach to climate change. As climate leader Bill McKibben has said, with climate change, winning slowly is the same as losing.</p> <p>Cynthia Nixon is running on a bold climate action agenda that includes supporting both the Climate and Community Protection Act as well as the Climate and Community Investment Act, which would levy a tax on corporate polluters, generating billions in revenue for investment in renewable energy, green jobs, and resiliency. Most important, Nixon is putting her money where her mouth is -- from the start of her campaign, she has refused all funding from the fossil fuel industry.</p> <p>Climate consequences are here and only getting worse. Hurricanes supercharged by warming oceans, drought, heat, wildfires, flooding, rising sea levels: it is all underway. Over time, New York will suffer increasingly frequent and devastating storms and floods. Coastal towns will erode into the ocean. Changing weather patterns will impact everything from farms, fisheries, and our food supply to tourism, housing, transportation, and public health.</p> <p>We need bold, transformative leadership and we need it now. With Donald Trump in Washington, New York needs to aggressively pave its own way into an uncertain, climate-altered future. Cynthia Nixon wants to lead us there by rejecting fossil fuels, protecting vulnerable communities, and embracing a shift to a fairer, renewable energy economy. Andrew Cuomo wants to fill his wallet and run for President.</p> <p>***<br /> Liat Olenick is a public school science teacher, union leader, and co-president of non-profit Indivisible Nation BK. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/liat_ro" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@Liat_RO</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/bkindivisible" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@bkindivisible</a></p> <p>

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<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2018/cynthia-nixon-gas.jpg" alt="cynthia nixon gas" width="600" height="357" /></p> <p>Cynthia Nixon (photo: @CynthiaNixon)</p> <hr /> <p>Governor Andrew Cuomo seeks to portray himself as a leading environmentalist. But in reality, he is too wrapped up in his own political ambitions to be the 21st century climate champion New York needs.</p> <p>The surface is rosy. Governor Cuomo formed the impressive sounding U.S. Climate Alliance, he banned fracking (while building infrastructure to transport fracked gas from nearby states) and is expanding wind farming in the state.</p> <p>Take a closer look, however, and it’s much seedier.</p> <p>While portraying himself as a climate leader, Cuomo is hoarding hundreds of thousands of dollars that he has accepted from fossil fuel companies in his campaign war chest. Recently, after facing pressure from constituent advocates and Cynthia Nixon’s candidacy, he said he would no longer accept fossil fuel-funded donations. But then he walked back that pledge, saying he misheard a question, and signaling that he is more concerned with financially positioning himself to run for President -- let’s be honest: he does not need $30 million to run for Governor -- than the wellbeing of his constituents. &nbsp;</p> <p>With thousands of New Yorkers still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, wildfires scorching the West, and Puerto Rico still not recovered from Maria, there is no excuse for a Governor who claims to be a climate champion but accepts blood money from the fossil fuel industry.</p> <p>Governor Cuomo has also refused to publicly support the Climate and Community Protection Act, which would shift New York off fossil fuels to a 100% renewable economy by 2050 and has the support of over 100 unions, community groups, and advocacy organizations across New York State. The CCPA has passed the State Assembly multiple times, but has stalled in the Senate, partially due to lack of support from the Governor. When asked about the legislation’s provision for completely shifting New York state to renewable energy over the next 30 years, he insisted it isn’t “practical” to make that rapid a transition.</p> <p>Polar ice caps will not stop melting to accommodate Andrew Cuomo’s political ambitions nor his sense of practicality. Ask any scientist, and they will tell you that we no longer have time for an incremental approach to climate change. As climate leader Bill McKibben has said, with climate change, winning slowly is the same as losing.</p> <p>Cynthia Nixon is running on a bold climate action agenda that includes supporting both the Climate and Community Protection Act as well as the Climate and Community Investment Act, which would levy a tax on corporate polluters, generating billions in revenue for investment in renewable energy, green jobs, and resiliency. Most important, Nixon is putting her money where her mouth is -- from the start of her campaign, she has refused all funding from the fossil fuel industry.</p> <p>Climate consequences are here and only getting worse. Hurricanes supercharged by warming oceans, drought, heat, wildfires, flooding, rising sea levels: it is all underway. Over time, New York will suffer increasingly frequent and devastating storms and floods. Coastal towns will erode into the ocean. Changing weather patterns will impact everything from farms, fisheries, and our food supply to tourism, housing, transportation, and public health.</p> <p>We need bold, transformative leadership and we need it now. With Donald Trump in Washington, New York needs to aggressively pave its own way into an uncertain, climate-altered future. Cynthia Nixon wants to lead us there by rejecting fossil fuels, protecting vulnerable communities, and embracing a shift to a fairer, renewable energy economy. Andrew Cuomo wants to fill his wallet and run for President.</p> <p>***<br /> Liat Olenick is a public school science teacher, union leader, and co-president of non-profit Indivisible Nation BK. On Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/liat_ro" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@Liat_RO</a> of <a href="https://twitter.com/bkindivisible" target="_blank" rel="noopener">@bkindivisible</a></p> <p>

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Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

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