Help Fight Climate Change
Climate Change Is the Greatest Environmental Threat Facing the Planet
The climate crisis threatens our planet and our health. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has recently stated: “[It is] code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.”
Across the United States, communities are already dealing with temperature changes, coastal flooding, roaring wildfires, and threatened drinking water supplies due to climate change. The last eight years have been the hottest on record — and from 2000 to 2021, the state experienced 51 billion-dollar weather disasters due to the climate crisis. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found that these events have cost New York up to an estimated $100 billion.
With the impacts of climate devastation adding up, New York State enacted the trailblazing Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which establishes goals of net zero greenhouse gas emissions in New York by 2050, and 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. Even sooner, by 2030, the law mandates interim targets of 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of all New York’s electricity coming from renewable sources.
2030 is fast approaching. Any delay will mean more deaths, human suffering, and staggering costs from flooding, storms, and heatwaves. New York has the tools, know-how, and policy proposals to lead the nation with the implementation of its landmark Climate Act. The time to act is now!
Fossil-Free Future CampaignNew York will not meet its climate goals, or align with the recommendations of global climate scientists, if fossil fuel extraction and burning continues. Buoyed by your critical support, NYPIRG’s Fossil-Free Future Campaign is fighting for comprehensive policies that will set New York up as a national and global leader in combating climate change. Future generations are depending on us.
Fossil-Free Future Campaign Goals and ObjectivesAchieving the goals of the CLCPA will require an aggressive approach and a deep commitment by New York State’s leaders. There can be no half measures or false solutions. To ensure that the state rises to this critical challenge, NYPIRG’s Fossil-Free Future Campaign has adopted a multi-pronged strategy:
Holding corporate polluters responsible for their role in the climate crisis: 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.
Now, the costs of the climate crisis continue to grow — it is estimated that at least $10 billion a year is needed to protect New Yorkers from the impacts of the climate crisis and to combat the climate crisis. We are calling for the creation of a “Climate Change Superfund,” modeled after the existing Superfund programs, as a way to raise funds for the state’s adaptation efforts in response to more frequent extreme storms, flooding, and other global warming impacts.
The Climate Change Superfund Act requires big oil companies to pay for damages caused by the climate crisis, with protections so that costs will not be passed on to consumers. Looking at past greenhouse gas emissions, this legislation will generate $3 billion a year and $75 billion in revenue over 25 years to fund climate protection and assistance programs, especially for disadvantaged and environmental justice communities. And it could fund massive statewide upgrades to roads, bridges, subways, and transit systems; unprecedented upgrades to storm water drainage and sewage treatment systems; preparing the power grid for stronger hurricanes and other severe storms; new systems to protect state residents from more frequent and deadly heatwaves; and responses to environmental and public health threats, such as algal blooms caused by a rapidly heating planet. Analyses have been conducted that show that the state can enact such a measure and do it in such a manner as to prohibit such assessments being passed on to consumers.
Tackling greenhouse gas emissions from buildings: Buildings are New York State and City’s top source of climate pollution. The International Energy Agency recently released a report stating that there cannot be new development of oil and gas fields, and have recommended a ban on gas and oil furnaces in new construction globally by 2025. A common sense and necessary solution is mandating that all new construction rely on electricity instead of fossil fuels.
VICTORY! After a hard fought campaign led by NYPIRG and partner organizations, New York has passed the first state law to ban new fossil fuel hookups and mandate electricity for new construction, following New York City’s footsteps.
Additionally, in 2019, New York City passed Local Law 97 to reduce emissions from existing large buildings. Buildings in New York City above 25,000 square feet must reduce their pollution to 2024 and 2030 benchmarks, or face fees for non-compliance. This landmark law is being implemented now, and we are tracking the roll-out to make sure that it is implemented fully, without loopholes or giveaways to the real estate lobby.
- Halting investment in fossil fuel infrastructure: New York will not break free from fossil fuels if it continues to provide permits or funding for fossil fuel infrastructure. NYPIRG helped win several recent environmental victories when New York denied permits for two fossil fuel power plants in Astoria, Queens and in Newburgh in the Hudson Valley, halted the proposed Williams oil and gas pipeline, and passed a moratorium on fossil fuel-powered cryptocurrency operations. It is essential for the state to stop approving applications for new fossil fuel projects and to phase out the use of existing facilities. Current efforts are aimed toward the Iroquois Pipeline expansion proposal, a gas pipeline that goes from Canada to New York City, that is seeking permits to expand compressor station operations in the towns of Athens and Dover.
- Investing in renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and battery storage: New York has not made enough progress expanding solar and wind energy and must put its energy dollars solely toward projects that help achieve the goals of the CLCPA. As we move to electrify buildings and transportation, it is important to make sure that the electricity is not coming from fossil fuels, but rather clean energy sources.
- Pressing for funding for environmental programs and to stop corporate polluters handouts: Tax subsidies and tax-exemption loopholes for the fossil fuel industry should be eliminated, and other measures to recoup windfall profits that the oil industry has recently received should be developed — and done so in a manner that protects consumers.
- Shifting the transportation system away from reliance on fossil fuels and towards reliance on electric power: Transportation is the second highest sector responsible for New York’s greenhouse gas emissions at 28%. For decades, NYPIRG has been involved in New York’s adoption of the California auto emission standards. To meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, the state must phase out all fossil fuel vehicles and transition to electric cars and buses. Changes in the state’s transportation system are necessary to develop infrastructure that allows for the easy charging of electric vehicles (of all types), as well as removing obstacles to the purchasing of affordable electric vehicles in the auto marketplace. New York should mandate that vehicles sold are 100% electric no later than 2035.
- Calling for transparency and accountability: For each of the last three years, NYPIRG released a “Climate Scorecard” to assess New York’s progress on climate goals, and we sent a letter to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos calling for more transparency. NYPIRG is calling on the Climate Action Council (established within the CLCPA to develop details in order to implement the law) to create a public climate scorecard to both ensure that the public can easily access information on the state’s progress toward meeting its goals under the CLCPA, and to hold state government accountable to ensure that it does meet its goals. New York State currently has an Energy Dashboard that contains some of the elements of a scorecard (the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Energy Dashboard), which can be expanded to cover more climate metrics.
We Need Your Support to WinTo combat the powerful oil and gas lobby, New Yorkers must let their leaders know in no uncertain terms that they support strong climate policies. NYPIRG has a vast network of tens of thousands community supporters and college student volunteers, and in 2023 we will continue to activate this powerful statewide network on this critical issue this year — sharing opportunities for public comments, social media days of action, call-in drives, media events, community meetings, and more. That is where you come in… Winning on all of this — along with our continued work on public health, government reform, consumer and voting rights, higher education, mass transit, and more — will only be possible if we have the grassroots support that we need to go up against the politically powerful. Your help will be essential as we take on the polluters, well-heeled lobbyists, and those public officials who put their own interests ahead of the public interest. Please support our crucial efforts to combat the climate crisis:
- Contact us to get involved.
- Join our Community Action Network.
- Donate to keep us strong and effective.