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 Hochul 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 Hochul today and ask her to make polluters pay up!
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The NY Legislature takes up Governor Hochul's Budget  (WAMC, January 24, 2022)
Sheldon Silver, former Assembly speaker, dies at 77  (Newsday, January 24, 2022)
State assemblyman proposes raising bottle deposit to 10 cents  (Niagara Gazette, January 22, 2022)
Breaking down the 2023 state budget proposal  (My Twin Tiers, January 21, 2022)
Mayor Adams Must Do More to Speed Up Buses, Advocates Say  (Streetsblog, January 21, 2022)
Hochul Amassed a Campaign Fortune. Here’s Who it Came From.  (The New York Times, January 20, 2022)
New York good-government advocates want moratorium on cryptomining  (Spectrum News, January 20, 2022)
NY weighs dime deposit  (Allotsego.com, January 20, 2022)
Democrats Likely to Take Control of New York Redistricting, Gain Congressional Seats  (The Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2022)
New York's bottle return law would expand under new bill  (Spectrum News, January 17, 2022)
Cahill introduces legislation to modernize bottle bill  (Niagara Frontier Publications, January 17, 2022)
Legislation introduces revised bottle bill to include ten-cent returns  (ABC News 10, January 15, 2022)
Progressive, watchdog groups urge oversight in economic development  (Spectrum News, January 14, 2022)
Redemption centers, environmental groups urge bottle bill expansion, deposit increase to ten cents  (Fingerlakes1.com, January 14, 2022)
Hochul urged to expand bottle deposit law in New York  (Spectrum News, January 13, 2022)
New York’s higher education system gets renewed attention from Hochul  (Spectrum News, January 11, 2022)
Senate Advances Pro-Voter Election Reforms  (EIM Newswire, January 11, 2022)
Advocates And State Legislators Call On Gov. Hochul To End Fossil Fuels In New Buildings Through Budget  (Harlem World Magazine, January 11, 2022)
An electric idea in Governor Hochul's State of the State  (WAMC, January 10, 2022)
News Archive
NYPIRG Announces New Staff
Reactions to Governor Hochul’s FY 2022 - 2023 Executive Budget
Seventy-five Bottle Redemption Businesses and Distributors Call on Governor Hochul to Expand and Modernize NY's Bottle Deposit Law
Reactions to Governor Hochul's State of the State
NYPIRG Applauds, Criticizes, Gov Hochul’s Approvals and Veto Of Environmental Legislation
New Yorkers Call For an End to Fossil Fuel Subsidies
NYPIRG and over 100 groups call on Gov Hochul to modernize NYS's soon-to-be-40 year old bottle bill.
VICTORY! Danskammer and Astoria Power Plant Permits Denied
Straphangers Campaign Petition to Transform Transit
News Release: NYPIRG Applauds NYS DEC Decisions to Deny Danskammer and Astoria Power Plant Permits
"Vote Yes on the Back" Factsheet: 2021 New York State Constitutional Amendment Ballot Questions
NY Congress Members Urge Speaker Pelosi to Make Polluters Pay for Climate Destruction Costs
NYPIRG Statement on Release of Draft Permit Renewal for The Greenidge Bitcoin Mining Facility
NYPIRG Statement on the August 2021 report released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Release: Leading Climate & Social Justice Organizations Rally Around Make Polluters Pay Plan
Letter: Leading Climate & Social Justice Organizations Rally Around Make Polluters Pay Plan
NYPIRG Calls for Creation of Public Dashboard to Measure Progress Toward New York’s Climate Goals
Letter to DEC: NYPIRG Calls for Clear and Accessible Public Reporting on Climate Progress
Policy Close Up: Climate Scorecard 2021
Environmental groups call for a moratorium on the operation of cryptocurrency mining centers
Reports & Features Archive