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!
New York officials split on special ballot proposals  (Adirondak News, October 18, 2021)
Supporters, critics sound off on green amendment, on statewide ballots next month  (Newsday, October 16, 2021)
Hochul wants to 'blow up JCOPE.' But how?  (San Antonio Express News, October 15, 2021)
Voters statewide will have a say on major and minor changes to New York Constitution  (The Buffalo News, October 15, 2021)
House Republican followed Trump's self-dealing model, spent thousands on her own companies: report  (Salon, October 14, 2021)
Why is Gov. Kathy Hochul calling Cynthia Nixon?  (City & State, October 13, 2021)
Firm that hired ex-Cuomo aide received no-bid state contract  (Newsday, October 10, 2021)
Redistricting referendum could extend Democratic enrollment advantage  (Newsday, October 9, 2021)
Gov. Kathy Hochul has had a heck of a New York honeymoon  (City & State, October 8, 2021)
Kathy Hochul wants to clean up Albany. So did the last guy.  (Politico, October 7, 2021)
What the Five Ballot Proposal Questions Mean for New Yorkers this November  (The City, October 5, 2021)
Wall Street dumps shares of Greenidge Generation stock ahead of air emissions hearings on ‘carbon neutral’ bitcoin mining  (Fingerlakes1.com, October 4, 2021)
Make polluters pay, activists tell Schumer: ‘You make a mess, you clean it up’  (NY Daily News, October 3, 2021)
Tish James tiptoes  (Newsday, September 29, 2021)
Kathy Hochul wants to clean up Albany. So did the last guy.  (Politico, September 29, 2021)
New York’s redistricting tests Democratic opposition to gerrymandering  (The Washington Post, September 27, 2021)
In redistricting, big cities have big say in power balance  (The Sentinel Record, September 27, 2021)
State government has a corruption problem, can Sen. Biaggi fix it?  (The Riverdale Press, September 26, 2021)
In redistricting, big say for big cities in DC power balance  (ABC News 12, September 26, 2021)
State government has a corruption problem, can Sen. Biaggi fix it?  (The Riverdale Press, September 26, 2021)
News Archive
NYPIRG Is Hiring: Environmental Policy Director
NYPIRG Is Hiring: New York City Equity and Resiliency Projects Regional Director
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
NYPIRG Statement on Passage of Legislation to Ensure All New Yorkers Have Testing for Dangerous Unregulated Contaminants
Council Members, Climate Activists New York City Council to Enact Gas Free NYC Bill to Reduce Air Pollution and Create Green Jobs
NYPIRG Reacts to Closure of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant
NYPIRG reacts to Census reapportionment numbers - NY will lose one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives
Groups respond to NYC carbon-neutral pathways report and call for gas ban on new construction
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
Reports & Features Archive