September's climate strike drew millions of people worldwide in what was likely the largest climate protest in history. The youth-led movement has inspired people around the world to envision a better future, a future where we make meaningful progress to curb the worst effects of climate change, cut pollution and create green new jobs.
This is a battle being fought on the streets with protests, but also in the halls of capital buildings across the nation. With the federal government abdicating its climate role, states are stepping in to fill the void.
In New York, we took a historic step this session and finally acted on climate by passing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CLCPA sets big mandates: 40% emissions reductions from 1990 levels by 2030; net zero emissions and 85% carbon-free by 2050; 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040.
Equally important, 35% of the state investments in climate and clean energy go to communities most affected by climate change or threatened by the changes in energy use, which will be more fair and just for New Yorkers.
These are ambitious targets. In order to meet them, we will need to invest heavily in wind, water and solar; prioritize electrification; and revolutionize how we think about energy use and sustainability.
But make no mistake: We can do this. It is possible, both scientifically and financially. With the passage of the CLCPA, New York has staked its claim to being a leader in the fight against climate change. To fail is not an option.
In coastal communities like ours, this fight feels especially urgent. When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, it showed us just how vulnerable we are to rising seas and powerful storms. Climate change makes hurricanes more destructive and increases the chances of flooding events. Time and again, studies have shown that climate change worsens storms and makes disasters even more catastrophic.
We can’t just allow climate change to happen and threaten all that we hold dear. As a community and as a nation, we have to act.
Although New York State can’t fight climate change alone, states will need to step up in a major way to curb emissions and make a big difference. The current presidential has allowed polluters to run amok and has succumbed to fossil fuel company-funded climate denialism. We don’t have time to wait for a new administration to take power to act.
Because of the importance of this issue, I’ll be holding a climate and resiliency town hall with agencies such as FEMA, Build it Back, Mayor’s Office of Resiliency and NYC Planning in October 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Kingsborough Community College. Come hear about preparedness, climate and resiliency and get your questions answered.
To protect ourselves and our coastal communities, states will have to lead the way--and New York is showing how.