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Seventh Generation Keeps Speaking Up for the Environment

The fact that New York State’s funding for its 2022-2023 environmental initiatives has increased from its original $4 billion to $6 billion in the final budget is the result of “tireless work,” according to Alison Whitenour, CEO of Seventh Generation owed to interest groups such as the 300-plus group coalition NY reneweda partner of the seventh generation.

A Boost for Schools, but Missed Opportunities?

The state budget was finalized at the beginning of April. Actions for climate justice within the budget include investments in “green education” in infrastructure modernization as well as access to clean energy sources for schools in underserved communities.

Ultimately, the state environmental budget is not enough the $15 billion advocacy groups believe it is necessary to fully finance the groundbreaking ambitions in New York Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (CLCPA) which 2019 has passed. Despite the financial support, many believe it is not enough to deal with the numerous climate threats facing the nation’s fourth most populous state. What does the future of New York look like, especially in relation to climate risks?

Going forward, Writenour told TriplePundit, both state governments and businesses have a big role to play in future climate protection efforts across the country.

In terms of climate, New York’s budget is half full for some and half empty for others

Heavy rainstorms and rising water levels are making New Yorkers increasingly vulnerable. For example, Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Ida in 2021 have led to beach erosion, flooded lowlands and increased coastal flooding. In response, Gov. Kathy Hochul has proposed new green infrastructure projects, claim in the last month that New York State’s new budget would help in the transition to a clean energy economy while creating jobs.

“This moment requires historic investments in renewable energy and environmental protection to move us closer to a better, greener future,” Governor Hochul said said last month when announcing the details of the budget. “Our unprecedented commitment to the pursuit of clean energy alternatives and green infrastructure will boost our economy and advance our climate goals.

Not everyone shares the governor’s optimism. Ahead of budget finalization, NY Renews said in an opinion“The law [CLCPA] has placed New York at the forefront of climate action, but it needs sufficient funding to create a just, just and sustainable state as promised.”

The group added, “NY Renews’ $15 billion proposal is proportional to the amount of funding needed to avert climate catastrophe and invest in climate justice.” Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn) said, that anything under $15 billion is a “half-measure” that the CLCPA is making “just a piece of paper.”

Even with a 50 percent increase in New York’s green budget, there’s still work to be done on the climate front. According to Writenour, Climate pollution costs New York State over $27 billion each year. She adds that these would not just be immediate climate investments fulfill the mandates of the CLCPA Saving the state between $80 billion and $150 billion over 30 years would result in improved air quality, more public transportation, and energy efficiency measures for low- and middle-income households.

The passage of the CLCPA was hailed the now strictest GHG emissions standards in the nationincluding a path for New York to achieve zero-carbon electricity by 2040 and a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. Climate funding included in the 2022-2023 state budget includes a $500 million investment among other initiatives to develop the state offshore wind supply chains and port infrastructure; and $500 million in clean water infrastructure funding.

The seventh generation calls for bolder leadership on climate change

Seventh generation is a certified B Corp With A History of Activism, and not just in his home state of Vermont. While Seventh Generation and NY Renews would like a more favorable budget outcome, Whitenour also believes New York has set a strong precedent.

“We know firsthand from our advocacy work that states are a critical arena for policy change, with the ability to make a nationwide impact,” says Whitenour of what informs the company’s efforts. “NY State has the 10th largest economy in the world [so] What happens in a state like New York has repercussions far beyond its borders.” This includes the influence of the CLCPA on President Biden justice40 Initiative.

It’s critical that elected officials continue to hear from companies supporting climate policies for a cleaner, fairer future. “As a leading sustainable company and one that does significant business in upstate New York, it’s critical that we speak up and get our peers in the business community to speak to us,” she says.

As part of its partnership with NY Renews, Seventh Generation has partnered with companies from a variety of industries, including Carbon Credit Capital, Kickstarter, Omega Institute and Uncommon Goods, to write a letter to New York’s elected officials to ensure that heads of state understand that a just transition away from fossil fuels would be good for the country’s climate, people and economy. The group also ran print ads in local newspapers across the state to help New York consumers understand how the climate funds would benefit them and their communities.

Whitenour says the current moment demands that corporate sustainability is “on the table” and that business has a critical role to play in pulling us out of the climate crisis. “Corporations need to use their influence to advocate for systemic policy change, and do it in a way that is consistent with their values,” adds Whitenour.

To that end, Seventh Generation is currently working to organize the business community to provide feedback on New York’s climate action plan.

“For too long members of the business community have impeded progress on the climate crisis. Elected officials need and want to hear from business leaders who understand and are willing to support just climate policies.” write us says.

Photo credit: Andrew Stein via Unsplash

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