CityViews: NYS Can Strike a Blow Against Both Inequality and a Warming Earth

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Damage from Hurricane Sandy in Staten Island.

Thomas Good

Damage from Hurricane Sandy in Staten Island.

From the Empire State to the far-away countries from which many of New York’s immigrants hail, the reality is clear: Our planet is warming, and our communities are being affected.

We have seen more extreme winters, more intense tropical weather and the devastation of our communities. Global warming causes a threat to us all, especially for those who live in coastal regions. And, in New York and the rest of the country, immigrant communities and communities of color are often the most vulnerable, as we saw with the impact of Superstorm Sandy on Staten Island.

We can solve this crisis through strong action at the international, federal, and state level. Last year, in Paris, leaders from around the world negotiated a landmark international agreement that will help. Now the State of New York can and must show leadership by investing in renewable energy sources.

For decades, big oil companies have denied their destructive impact on our environment and dismissed the threat of global warming more generally, and have tried to block investment in renewable energy sources. Last year, they spent $114 million fighting against the expansion of the clean -energy industry. We cannot remain silent as large companies that pollute our communities also pollute our political process.

New York State has a huge opportunity to take on these big companies and take leadership in the fight to protect our planet and our communities. The New York State Climate and Community Protection Act will put our state on a path to reduce our carbon emissions and have 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, with requirements for the intervening years to ensure that we are making the necessary progress along the way. It will also promote good jobs for members of our community in this growing sector, and would benefit our communities by reducing the pollution that hurts our families.

The proposal is advancing in the Assembly, and we are confident it will be approved. The State Senate must then take action, which is why on Wednesday thousands of people traveled to Albany to ensure that our legislators take action and protect our communities.

New York has the opportunity to show that we are a state at the forefront of addressing this global crisis. We need leadership in Albany to take this important step, and the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act will be the test. New Yorkers feel the urgency of stopping climate change in its tracks, and we are united in the search for a sustainable future for our planet. Now our state senators have to join this critical fight and take action.

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Ángel Vera is a community organizer with Make the Road New York (@MaketheRoadNY), the largest community organization in New York offering services and organizing the immigrant community. Juan Camilo Osorio is the Director of Research of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (@NYCEJAlliance), a citywide membership network linking grassroots organizations from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in their struggle for environmental justice since 1991.

  • Bart_R

    Think PIE:

    Privatize fossil waste disposal so fossil waste dumpers pay Market rents to the manifest owners of air: everyone with lungs, equally.

    Indict fossil racketers for payments to mislead about fossil liabilities.

    End fossil subsidies.