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!
New York state of emergency remains in place, and with it, many of Cuomo's pandemic powers  (NY 1, June 15, 2021)
New York has a long road ahead to meet its climate goals  (City & State, June 14, 2021)
With Cuomo Weakened, New York Lawmakers End Session With Flex of Power  (The New York Times, June 14, 2021)
The Legislature Wraps Up The 2021 Session  (WAMC, June 14, 2021)
Bill banning coal tar-based sealants heads to Cuomo's desk  (Spectrum News, June 14, 2021)
Legislative productivity gets back on track in Albany  (Spectrum News, June 11, 2021)
NYS lawmakers approve bill to expand water testing  (WIVB, June 9, 2021)
State lawmakers pass ban on coal tar, a popular but harmful driveway sealant  (The Telegraph, June 8, 2021)
State lawmakers approve bill to expand water testing  (ABC News 10, June 8, 2021)
Senate Moves Again To Stop "Pay To Play"  (WAMC, June 7, 2021)
Nuclear Subsidies May Be Slowing Transition to Clean Energy, Advocates Say  (Truthout, June 6, 2021)
New York emits more building pollution than any other state  (Green Biz, June 4, 2021)
NY lawmakers pass ban on coal tar as driveway sealant  (Olean Times-Herald, June 3, 2021)
It’s Time To Wind Down The Fossil Fuel Industry  (WAMC, May 25, 2021)
New York Has a Massive Building Air Pollution Problem  (Treehugger, May 20, 2021)
Farmers dig in against proposed ban on coated seeds  (Atlanta Business Journal, May 19, 2021)
Farmers aim to halt push for ban on coated seeds  (Oneonta Daily Star, May 18, 2021)
Questions remain around Hoosick Falls’ possible new water source  (Spectrum News, May 14, 2021)
Slowing The March To Climate Catastrophe  (WAMC, May 10, 2021)
Recycling issues divide businesses and local governments: Push is on to reboot financing of program.  (Niagara Gazette, May 8, 2021)
News Archive
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
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
Reports & Features Archive