Rallying for Climate Justice (photo: Chandra Bocci)
We write this on behalf of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, educators, and caregivers deeply concerned for our children’s futures. Over the next few weeks, Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will finalize the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year. When they do, they must remember their littlest constituents and include the full NY Renews Climate, Jobs, and Justice Package to ensure our children, and all New Yorkers, have a chance at a safe, healthy, secure future.
Climate change is already taking a harrowing toll on frontline communities across New York State. From flooding in low-lying areas to extreme heat in the summers to crop disruption and beyond, it’s clear we’re in a crisis. And our children – particularly Black, Latino, Asian, immigrant, and Indigenous children – bear the brunt of fossil fuel pollution; dirty air puts them at greater risk of preterm birth, asthma, cancer, reduced cognitive ability, and more.
But despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers support climate action – the Environmental Bond Act passed in November with close to 70% of the vote statewide – New York is failing to meet its own climate commitments. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) passed in 2019, almost four years ago, and set ambitious targets for emissions reductions and investment in both renewable energy and climate resiliency. Today’s kindergarteners were babies when the bill first passed. But while our children have progressed, the state has stalled — the law is still not fully funded, and the state is falling behind in its transition to clean energy. Our leaders must act now to ensure this year’s budget fully funds and implements the CLCPA.
It is also past time for the state to invest in publicly-owned renewable energy, hold polluters accountable, and tax the ultra wealthy to fund climate justice. The climate crisis is rapidly accelerating – so too must our state’s plans to shift off of fossil fuels and invest in community based resiliency and mitigation. Publicly-owned renewables will enable New York to quickly make clean energy available to more and more New Yorkers.
Meanwhile, we now know that corporate polluters – and their funders on Wall Street – have continued to expand fossil fuel infrastructure for decades despite being fully aware of the consequences for people and the planet. They must be held accountable. The Climate Change Superfund Act would make New York’s worst polluters, the major oil companies, pay for the damage they have done to our communities. This would generate $75 billion in revenue over the next 25 years for investment in community climate programs.
The budget must also include taxes on corporations and New York’s ultra-rich. New York is the most unequal state in the country, and New York City is home to more millionaires and billionaires than any other city in the world. While working parents and caregivers have struggled to stay afloat through three years of a pandemic and disrupted access to school and daycare, corporations – including fossil fuel companies – have raked in record profits. There is no excuse for failing to fund climate justice programs and a clean energy transition when New York is awash in wealth. The Invest in Our New York legislative package will ensure that the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share after years of tax breaks and kickbacks.
As people who spend our days caring for and worrying about children, we are counting on Democratic leadership’s tenacity, foresight, and commitment to this vital endeavor. It’s time to pass the Climate, Jobs, and Justice package in full. Before it’s too late.
Senator Robert Jackson represents District 31 in the New York State Senate, and is a parent of three and grandfather of two. Liat Olenick is a leader of Climate Families NYC, a teacher, and a parent. Laurel Tumarkin sits on the steering committee of the NY Renews climate coalition and is a parent. On Twitter @RJackson_NYC, @Liat_RO, @LaurelTumarkin, @ClimateFamsNYC, @NYRenews.