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NY Governor Cuomo Announces Climate Actions; NYC Includes Equity Dimension in Sustainability Plan

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In New York state’s continuing push for sustainability and climate resilience, Al Gore recently joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo in announcing four major actions to combat climate change and reduce statewide GHG emissions. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is continuing to emphasize sustainability there – now with a strong equity dimension.New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is joined by Al Gore in announcing state actions on climate change.

As part of the state’s suite of initiatives, Cuomo signed the Under 2 MOU (memorandum of understanding), an agreement affirming the commitment of local governments worldwide to help prevent the earth’s average temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, as measured against pre-industrial levels, to avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.

New York was already committed to reducing GHG emissions in line with the Under 2 MOU as part of its 2015 State Energy Plan and has set the most aggressive emission reduction targets in the nation – 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

More Statewide Efforts

At the event with Gore, Cuomo announced these additional actions:

  • Engaging with New York’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) partners and California, Quebec and Ontario to explore linking these successful carbon markets.

  • Continuing to make good on its commitments under NY-Sun – an initiative to protect the environment and lower New Yorkers’ energy costs by improving the efficiency and reliability of the electric grid – the governor pledged to bring solar to 150,000 more homes and businesses by 2020. And through the Shared Renewables Program, commercial projects will now be able to share the power they generate on their properties with surrounding community members.

  • The State University of New York (SUNY), the nation’s largest statewide public university system, will install solar and other renewable energy at each of its 65 campuses by 2020. SUNY is also committed to improving its energy efficiency performance 20 percent and reducing its GHG emissions 30 percent by 2020.  Cuomo challenged private colleges and universities to join SUNY in its clean-energy commitments, which the New York Power Authority will support with new tools and resources for engaging in solar lease agreements with private-sector partners.Further, New York will expand on its ambitious energy efficiency agenda by investing in clean, renewable power across all of its public buildings and facilities.

Equity + Sustainability

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s One New York (OneNYC) plan – his 2015 update to then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s environmental roadmap PlaNYC –  moves toward creation of a sustainable, resilient and equitable city by addressing income inequality as well as such long-term challenges as climate change and aging infrastructure.

OneNYC builds on both previous sustainability plans and the current administration’s initiatives in areas such as affordable housing, climate change, bolstering coastal communities, reducing GHG emissions and economic development.

An important goal of OneNYC is to foster job growth and build an inclusive workforce that helps lift 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty or near poverty by 2050. One NYC also includes an ambitious program for creating and preserving affordable housing.

Creating a resilient city, the OneNYC plan says, also means:

  • Upgrading public and private buildings to be more energy efficient and resilient to the impacts of climate change;

  • Adapting infrastructure like transportation, telecommunications, water and energy to withstand severe weather events; and

  • Strengthening coastal defenses against flooding and sea level rise.

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