Help Fight Climate Change

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Making New York a Global Climate Leader

Climate change is the greatest environmental threat facing the planet. The accumulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is causing extreme weather events, harmful algal blooms, ocean acidification, and rising sea levels. If left unabated, this will have devastating impacts on New York’s economy, infrastructure, public health, coastal areas, and natural ecosystems.

According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change October 2018 report, global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, instead of the previously stated 2 degrees, if the world wants to avoid catastrophic results. This means that New York must move to 100% renewable energy in all sectors as rapidly as possible. But New York has a lot of work to do – currently, the state only gets approximately 5% of its electricity from wind and solar. Additionally, there are still proposals to expand New York’s reliance on fossil fuels, such as the construction of several pipelines and power plants.

NYPIRG is fighting for comprehensive policies that will set New York up to lead the charge to combat climate change.

Ban Fossil Fuel Hookups for New Construction

New York will not meet its climate goals if fossil fuel infrastructure is expanded. A common sense and necessary solution is to ensure that all new construction is mandated to rely on electricity instead of fossil fuels. Thankfully, 42 cities and a county in California offer New York models to use. These localities have enacted new zoning codes that encourage or require all-electric new construction. These codes are meant to keep builders from running natural gas lines to new homes and apartments. Electrifying buildings will make transitioning to renewables for heat and other purposes much easier long-term. Localities in New York, and the state as a whole, should begin adopting these policies.

Halt the Building of New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

New York has made the right call to fight climate change – while also protecting waterways – by saying no to pipeline projects, like the Williams Pipeline. However, there are currently several proposals to build out fossil fuel infrastructure in New York. NYPIRG has been engaged in the fights around the E37/Albany Loop pipeline, the Danskammer repowering proposal, the Astoria power plant proposal, and the North Brooklyn Pipeline. New York State adopted into law the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which establishes goals of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in New York by 2050, and 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. Clearly, expanded fossil fuel infrastructure would make New York’s chances of meeting these goals impossible, which is why it is essential to adopt policies that mandate new construction to be all-electric and to eventually move existing buildings toward electrification.

Create Accountability to Meet New York’s Climate Goals

Thanks to New York’s ambitious climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York has some of the strongest climate goals in the country. But these goals, and the entities in charge of implementing these goals, must be closely watchdogged. Additionally, one of the best ways to ensure that New York meets these ambitious goals is to be transparent to the public. New York should issue an annual scorecard so the public can easily gauge where the state stands in regard to its climate goals. Accountability will be key to success.

Green New York’s Transportation

34% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. Similarly, 40% of New York’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the transportation sector. To meet emission targets, New York must move to phase out all fossil fuel vehicles – including personal cars and buses. Bus fleets will need to be electrified, funding and build-out of public transit must be prioritized, and incentives for electric vehicles must be expanded. California has an executive order that directs all new cars and passenger trucks sold in the state to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. New York should mandate that vehicles sold are 100% electric no later than 2035.

Hold Climate Polluters Accountable

Environmental needs in New York are tremendous – and it is anticipated that costs to both protect New Yorkers from the impacts of the climate crisis and to combat the climate crisis will be steep. Since the 1970s, the fossil fuel industry has known the environmental risks associated with burning fossil fuels and accurately predicted the timetable in which those changes would occur. Avoiding responsibility, the industry used its considerable clout to withhold the evidence from the public, undermine climate science, and hire consultants and lobbyists to derail health and environmental reforms. It is critical for the state to step up where the federal government has dropped off the map – holding polluters financially responsible for the damage that they have caused.

There are a number of ways that the fossil fuel industry could be held accountable to pay for the damages that they have caused, including ending fossil fuel subsidies. According to the FY2020 Annual Report on New York State Tax Expenditures, the state provides $1.6 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. Unless those subsidies can be proven to directly benefit consumers, they should be eliminated. These subsidies not only prop up an industry that actively damages New York’s environment, but also leave less money for programs that help New Yorkers, and for meeting New York’s climate goals.

New York could also institute polluter penalties to hold climate polluters accountable. One such way to do this is through legislation like the Climate and Community Investment Act. This legislation would create polluter penalties that would generate billions of dollars in revenue and ensure that those funds go toward frontline and environmental justice communities.

TAKE ACTION – Tell Governor Cuomo to Make Polluters Pay!

It has been estimated that New York will need to invest at least $4 to $5.5 billion annually to ensure that the state moves off of fossil fuels and provides a just transition to displaced workers and equitable solutions for environmental justice communities. Additionally, investments will need to be made to protect water quality, restore wetlands and other lands damaged by the climate crisis, and increase community resilience to the changing climate.
But it should not be up to everyday New Yorkers to pay for these costs – it should be the fossil fuel industry, which spent billions of dollars lying about their role in causing the climate crisis.
There are a number of ways that the fossil fuel industry could be held accountable for their damage, including:
  • Ending fossil fuel subsidies
  • Creating polluter penalties
Contact Governor Cuomo today and ask him to make polluters pay up!
Blair Horner discusses the state budget on The Capitol Connection  (WAMC, April 8, 2021)
Rockland residents demand greater state action on county water contamination  (Mid Hudson News, April 6, 2021)
Rockland Residents Urge NY To More Cleanup Of 'Forever Chemicals'  (Patch.com, April 5, 2021)
Attorney General James Takes Action to Correct “Fatally-Flawed” Toxic Chemical Risk Evaluation  (EIN Presswire, March 23, 2021)
New Yorkers will vote on Green Amendment in November  (Olean Times-Herald, March 22, 2021)
Not the time to add natural gas infrastructure  (Albany Times-Union, March 20, 2021)
Time for fossil fuel industry to shut down, pay up and move out  (Albany Times-Union, March 14, 2021)
Local environmental advocates call for investigation into DEC’s knowledge of AFFF burning at Norlite  (ABC News 10, February 11, 2021)
PFOA found in Rockland County public water supply  (Mid-Hudson News, February 9, 2021)
Astoria Assemblyman to host ‘Climate (in) Jeopardy!’ trivia night featuring special guests  (Qns.com, February 5, 2021)
NYC transit advocates urge de Blasio to build 30 miles of bus lanes during final year as mayor  (Daily News, February 4, 2021)
Welcome to DOT, Commissioner Gutman — Now Create Better Bus Service, Advocates Say  (Streetsblog, February 4, 2021)
A workshop for lobbying during COVID  (Community News Weekly, January 29, 2021)
Governor Cuomo's Budget  (WAMC, January 25, 2021)
Blair Horner discusses the 2021 state budget   (WGXC Radio, January 25, 2021)
Empire State Weekly NYPIRG Executive Director Blair Horner Budget Executive Budget Interview  (WIVB, January 22, 2021)
Budget Question New Yorkers Should Be Asking  (WAMC, January 18, 2021)
Green energy economy leads Cuomo’s third State of State address  (Adirondack Explorer, January 14, 2021)
New York poised to expand green energy on grid  (Niagara Gazette, January 13, 2021)
Cuomo unveils ambitious green energy program for New York  (WRVO, January 14, 2021)
News Archive
Advocacy Groups and NYC Council Members Announce Campaign to Ban Gas in New Construction
2021 State Budget Reaction
NYPIRG and New York's leading civic organizations call for an overhaul in ethics enforcement. The coalition urges that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) be replaced and a new independent ethics watchdog be created.
Statement on New Information Regarding PFAs Incineration at Norlite Plant in Cohoes
Statement on Climate Action Council Energy Efficiency and Housing Advisory Panel Recommendations
Statement on Mayor Bill de Blasio Announcement to Ban New Fossil Fuel Hookups in New York City
Social Justice, Environmental Organizations Applaud Governor Cuomo’s Proposal to Ban Water Shut-Offs During States of Emergency
NYPIRG Reacts To Governor Cuomo's Budget Proposal
NYPIRG Reacts to Governor's 4th 2021 State of the State Address on NYS Infrastructure Needs
NYPIRG Reacts to Governor's State of the State Environmental Plans and Priorities
Youth, Climate, and Environmental Organizations Respond to Governor Cuomo’s Environment State of the State Address
NYPIRG Reacts to Governor’s First Installment of His 2021 State of the State Address
NYPIRG and dozens of other civic organizations urge lawmakers to keep revenues from the Stock Transfer Tax in order to avert deep state cuts to environmental, health care, and higher education programs
150+ organizations call for end of fossil fuel subsidies
Release: Coalition Releases Analysis Finding Road Spreading of oil and gas waste ongoing
Factsheet: Analysis Uncovers Ongoing Oil and Gas Waste Road Spreading
NYPIRG Statement on Legislation Banning Burning of Toxic Firefighting Foam in Cohoes Becoming Law
NYPIRG Student Voter Helpline Finds Some Confusion, Fewer Problems
NYPIRG to Open Statewide Student Voter Helpline on Nov 3
Make Polluters Pay Event With New York Attorney General Letitia James (Video)
Reports & Features Archive