Climate Emergency Declaration of NYS
September 20, 2019
Dear Governor Cuomo:
We write to you in solidarity with the international Youth Climate Strike on September 20, urging you to declare a climate emergency in New York State.
The call for the Youth Climate Strike states that “Faced with climate catastrophe, armed with the sound of our voices and the weight of our bodies, we, as youth, must strike to make our presence known. We strike to protect a livable future, one that is no longer guaranteed. Global South, indigenous, and frontline communities are already experiencing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. We must enact swift change, to salvage not only their lands, but our land, and the lands of all life on earth. We strike against the notion that the wealth of select corporations and people should undermine the welfare of the many.”
The demands of the international Youth Climate Strike include:
- A Green New Deal that immediately halts all new fossil fuel projects and transitions our economy to 100% renewable energy by 2030;
- Respect of Indigenous lands and sovereignty;
- Environmental justice for communities on the frontlines of poverty and pollution, and sanctuary for all migrants;
- Protect and restore 50% of the world’s lands and oceans; stop all deforestation by 2030;
- Invest in sustainable agriculture, not agribusiness.
Our rally and march in Albany have the following specific demands for steps to take in relation to declaring a climate emergency (see for example S5518 / A5399) in New York:
1) Immediate ban on all new fossil fuel projects.
We need to halt the use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. A critical first step is to stop the expansion of the use of fossil fuels, including natural gas. This starts with rejecting permits for projects such as the Williams Pipeline, Danskammer, Cricket Valley and CPV.
2) Immediate halt to all subsidies for fossil fuels from NYS
NYS provides an estimated $1.5 billion in various tax subsidies to fossil fuels (see A257/S2649). The International Monetary Fund estimates that governments provide more than $5 trillion dollars in subsidies annually for fossil fuel companies, mainly by not making them pay for the damages caused by their products. We need to enact polluter penalties (fee on greenhouse gas emissions; see A39 / S3608 or S3616). We must also stop utility companies from subsidizing the expansion of natural gas, including in heating and cooling homes, and instead increase subsidies for renewable heat such as air heat pumps and geothermal.
3) Immediately invest $10 billion in the 2020-21 state budget in a climate transition with funding for renewable energy, efficiency and a Green New Deal. 40% of such funding must target disadvantaged communities.
Among the most critical goals established in the recently enacted state climate legislation (CLCPA) sets a goal of increasing the percentage of the state’s electricity coming from renewables to 70% by 2030. The state unfortunately has a long history of failing to meeting its climate goals. Since Gov. Pataki first set goals to increase renewable energy in 2002, the state has added less than 5% of its electricity from wind and solar. We must now match that increase on an annual basis. We must dramatically increase state funding to expand renewable energy, including investing in community energy and energy retrofit projects that directly assist environmental justice and low and moderate income communities. We must also create (guarantee) living wage jobs for these communities and existing workers in the fossil fuel industry.
4) Convert all public buildings and vehicles to zero GHG emissions by 2023
The state must be a model for our energy future by immediately moving to eliminate its own greenhouse gas emissions. We need to install solar, geothermal and energy efficiency measures in all public buildings. This includes converting the Sheridan Avenue power facilities for the Empire State complex to use 100% renewables. We need to convert government owned vehicles to zero emissions.
5) Amend building codes to require all new buildings be carbon emission free by 2023.
While the state has made progress in reducing emissions from electricity, this accounts for less than a fifth of the state’s carbon footprint; buildings and transportation each account for more than a third. California requires new residential buildings to be carbon free by 2020 (and buildings under 3 stories must incorporate solar); all new buildings must be carbon free by 2030. New York State must adopt similar building codes.
Signed by organizations in support of a livable planet
Advocacy Committee of the Capital Region Interfaith Creation Care Coalition; AGREE: Alliance for a Green Economy; Aytzim: Ecological Judaism; Bethlehem Morning Voice Huddle; Bethlehem NY Indivisible; Campaign for Renewable Energy in Ithaca; Capital Women; Coalition of Capital Region Progressives; Clean Air Action Network of Glens Falls; Climate Reality Project: Capital Region, NY Chapter; Code Pink NYC; Evolve Nisky Democracy; Extinction Rebellion of the Capital Region; First Reformed Church of Schenectady Creation Care Committee; First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany Green Sanctuary; Food and Water Watch; Greenfaith/Capital Region; Green Education and Legal Fund; Green Party of New York; Green Party of Nassau County; Indivisible 518:Justice for All; Interfaith Impact of NYS; Mothers Out Front – Dutchess County; New Paltz Climate Action Coalition; New Yorkers for Clean Power; New York Interfaith Power and Light (NYIPL); Northeast Organic Farmers Association of NY; People of Albany United for Safe Energy; Progressive Schenectady; Protecting Our Waters; Sage Climate Crisis Center; Sane Energy Project; Saratoga Progressive Action; Saratoga Unites; Saugerties Democratic Committee; Save the Pine Bush; Solarize Albany; Stop Algonquin Pipeline Expansion; Sustainable Albany; Tricounty NY Transition; Troy Zero Waste; U-Sustain; UU Congregation of Binghamton Green Sanctuary; Watervliet Huddle; Woodstock Farm Sanctuary; Zero Waste Capital District; 21C4E: 21st century citizens addressing the 4 most important “e” s. Environment, energy, education and economic justice. (In formation)