Demos & Sierra Club Presidents Op Ed for Climate Justice
Heather McGhee, president of Demos, and Aaron Mair, president of the Sierra Club, teamed up recently to pen an opposition editorial in favor of climate justice which was published in the Albany Times Union. We have re-posted the piece here for those who are not paid subscribers to that news outlet.
Power on to generate cleaner N.Y.
State leaders have taken great strides on the path toward creating a sustainable, clean energy economy for the people of New York. In 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo withstood a multimillion-dollar lobbying and public relations onslaught by fossil fuel interests and banned fracking across the state, preventing what would have been a huge step backward for New Yorkers' health and safety and for our environment and economy.
In 2016, the state Assembly struck a blow for climate justice and true economic revitalization by passing the Climate and Community Protection Act, the strongest legislation of its kind in the United States. In 2017, there should be no looking back.
We know this won't be easy, for one big reason: Fossil fuel interests have a lot at stake in trying to stop our state's clean energy momentum. As a new report from the Public Accountability Initiative shows, dozens of fossil fuel corporations, associations and related interests are pursuing their agenda through the Business Council of New York State. The council has already made its extreme and unpopular position clear in opposing the CCPA when it was introduced last spring, going so far as to attack the legislation as "the end of manufacturing, farming, buses, trucks, cars and finally people."
But as we saw in the grass-roots driven fracking fight, people power can win the fight for clean power. And the CCPA is backed by NY Renews, a 90-member, statewide coalition of labor, environmental justice, social justice, good government and environmental groups (our organizations, Demos and the Sierra Club, are both members).
The bill codifies into law the goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 and is designed to meet Cuomo's own hugely popular Clean Energy Standard of getting to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.
The CCPA's real strength, however, lies in its emphasis on achieving climate goals in an equitable and inclusive way. The CCPA mandates that a substantial share of the new investment we will need to achieve a zero-carbon energy system must be targeted for low-income communities (currently the share is set at 40 percent).
With this targeted approach, the CCPA goes on the offensive for the health and prosperity of working class New Yorkers, especially low-wage workers in communities of color. Communities of color have disproportionately borne the harms of fossil fuel pollution, while gaining few of the benefits of the economic growth that, increasingly, only the richest New Yorkers enjoy. We need a clean energy policy that remedies such injustice and disadvantage in a big way.
With targeted investment in energy efficiency upgrades for low-income households, equitable access to renewable energy, public transit and other equitable, low-carbon transit solutions, and health programs and infrastructure investments to enhance the resiliency of climate-vulnerable communities, New Yorkers struggling to get by in today's anti-worker, highly segregated economy will benefit from a surge of new, high-quality jobs.
But the CCPA's win-win logic of marrying climate, equity and job-creation goals does have one big loser: the fossil fuel industry and its political and ideological allies in many of our country's elected bodies. On behalf of its big-money members, the Business Council of New York will be tasked with trying to stop the momentum on clean energy.
Thankfully, Cuomo and the state Assembly have made it quite clear that New York state cannot be bought or bullied by the fossil fuel interests. Instead, the state is putting people first by forging the job-creating clean energy economy we need to secure a better future. Let's hope that further strong leadership in Albany, and legislative victory, turn 2017 into a breakthrough year for clean energy and economic opportunity across the state.
Heather McGhee is president of Demos. Aaron Mair is president of the Sierra Club.
#NYRENEWS #ClimateChange #EnergyDemocrcay
Posted on Fri, October 28, 2016 by PUSH Buffalo