Environment group urges NY lawmakers to meet climate goals set three years ago

A national environmental organization is urging New York lawmakers to meet the climate and clean energy goals set out in a statewide climate law three years ago, in a digital ad campaign launched Monday.

“We’re seeing the effects of climate change all around us,” warns a Sierra Club video campaign against a backdrop of partially flooded suburban homes.

“It’s a frightening sight. Streets and public transport have been flooded,” the campaign adds, as an L train pulls up at a subway station amid a deluge of Hurricane Ida flash floods.

Aiming to bring public attention to the health damage exacerbated by climate change, the campaign calls on New York lawmakers to complete the state’s climate scoping plan, as mandated by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

The New York Legislature passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in July 2019 with the goal of “instituting a comprehensive package of measures” to reduce the state’s carbon footprint and improve community resilience, according to the state’s Department of Environment.

Passing the bill led to the formation of the New York State Climate Action Council, a 22-member committee tasked with devising a “scoping plan” that could meet the state’s clean energy and climate goals.

In December, the council voted to open its 300-page draft scoping plan for public comment from January 1 to June 10 – and stated its intention to release the final scoping plan by the end of the year.

But Sierra Club activists urged lawmakers to proceed with what they described as an “ambitious” and “time-bound” plan sooner rather than later as New Yorkers continue to battle flooding, heat waves and skyrocketing utility bills.

“A scoping plan with delays or half measures would be ruthless – that’s almost three years ago now [law] passed,” said Allison Considine, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club, in a statement.

“The Climate Action Council and Governor Hochul must be accountable to the people of New York who for decades choked on polluted air and had no choice but to rely on fossil fuels at the expense of people and the planet,” Considine added.

The draft plan calls for an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions — compared to the 1990s — by 2050, a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, 100 percent zero-emission electricity by 2040, and 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030, according to a survey published by the attached to the longer document.

Several key strategies are at the heart of the draft plan, including energy efficiency, electrification of transportation, zero-emission electricity, maximizing carbon sequestration in New York’s land and forest, and eliminating fugitive methane emissions from the waste, agriculture and energy sectors.

Achieving these goals would require “action in all sectors” and “significant investment in the New York economy,” according to the draft plan. Overall, about 1 to 2 million homes with heat pumps would need to be electrified by 2030, while about 3 million zero-emission vehicles would need to be sold by then, the plan estimates.

Even after accounting for the $290 billion in investments needed to meet the state’s goals, the draft plan concludes that net benefits would range between $90 billion and $120 billion.

Decarbonizing New York and thereby improving air quality could also result in $50 billion to $120 billion in health benefits from 2020 to 2050, the plan adds.

Acknowledging the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act as “an important turning point in New York’s reckoning with the climate crisis,” Considine urged state officials to “shake off the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on energy planning” and adhere to the “goals of the act.” realize reality.”

Without the approval of a final scoping plan, she added, the law “will just be an empty commitment.”

The Hill has reached out to the New York City Department of the Environment for comment.

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