GPNY to NY Lawmakers Accelerate Climate Action Legislation in 2024

Media Release

For Immediate Release: December 29, 2023
For More info: Gloria Mattera, [email protected], 917-886-4538
Mark Dunlea, [email protected], 518 860-3725

Green Party Says Governor, State Lawmakers Need to Dramatically Accelerate Climate Action in 2024

Politicians Have Run out of Time to Avoid Major Climate Disruption, Need DiNapoli to Divest from Exxon and Other Oil and Gas Companies

The Green Party of New York said today that New York needs to adopt an ecosocialist Green New Deal (GND)  that includes a transition to 100% clean renewable energy and zero emissions within a decade along with a strong economic Bill of Rights. This would include major subsidies to fund the rapid decarbonization of all buildings in the state, including heat pumps, geothermal, and energy conservation. Such efforts should begin immediately in all public buildings, starting with the State Capitol complex. The Green Party first called for a GND in 2010.

The party criticized the so-called cap-trade-invest program being pushed by Governor Hochul as the wrong solution. The Greens said that the Democrats’ tepid climate agenda in New York, such as the CLCPA (Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act), is an example of the lack of effective government action on climate that led the UN Secretary-General to say that the Gates to Hell have been opened, as extreme weather exploded globally in 2023.

The Green Party said that all new vehicles in New York should be electric (non-fossil fuels) by no later than 2030, though the major focus should be a massive investment to expand and improve mass transit.

The Greens have long advocated for a goal of zero emissions within a decade. They noted that the courts recently ordered Belgium to reduce its emissions by 55% by 2030. At our present rate of emissions, the world’s carbon budget – how much can be emitted to have a 50% chance of keeping below 1.5 C warming – will run out in less than 6 years. Many scientists increasingly believe that there is no chance left of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees.

“We no longer have time for the incremental climate steps favored by the Democrats. Greenhouse gas emissions globally have continued to climb since the Paris accords. While keeping global warming below the target of 1.5 degrees Celsius is unlikely, it is still essential that we do everything possible to lower the level of warming we will experience. We must do much more to give future generations the possibility of avoiding the worst of climate change,” said Mark Dunlea, co-chair of the EcoAction Committee of the Green Party of the US.

Dunlea, the Green Party’s Comptroller  candidate who challenged DiNapoli on divestment in 2018 when the Greens last won ballot status, called on the Comptroller to step up his efforts on climate. The Green Party has long supported full divestment of the state pension funds from fossil fuels, and was critical of DiNapoli for delaying a decision to divest billions of dollars from Exxon and other gas and oil companies, a process the Comptroller announced he was starting in August 2022. The Party also said that DiNapoli should provide financial leadership on other key climate issues such as making polluters pay, progressive energy taxes and fees. the details of carbon pricing, Climate Superfund, a rapid build out of public renewables, and how to fund decarbonization efforts by all New Yorkers.

The party also called for additional steps to make polluters pay and end fossil fuel subsidies, such as adoption of the Climate Superfund, NY Heat, and Stop Climate Polluter Handouts Acts as part of the Climate, Jobs and Justice package of bills. It also urged the state to not fund or promote false climate solutions such as carbon capture and sequestration, hydrogen, gas, “renewable natural gas,” nuclear, and biofuels.

The Green Party said that the cap-trade-and-invest program being pushed by the Hochul administration needed to start with a floor of $100 per ton (similar to Europe), with at least a 15% annual increase. It also needs to include measures to ensure emissions in environmental justice communities were drastically slashed, as groups such as NY Renews have proposed. The Party noted a report submitted by NYSERDA to the Climate Action Council (12-20-21) estimated that the cost of the 30-year transition to clean energy would be nearly $3 trillion ($100 billion annually), though the state assumes that most of the funds (90%) will come from redirecting existing energy expenditures. (The net cost is much less, due to reductions in health care costs, etc.) The Hochul administration has initially indicated that its carbon pricing program would only raise $3 billion annually.

“Cap-and-trade programs can increase pollution in environmental justice communities. Even Pope Frances has warned against cap-and-trade program, noting that they have been abused by Wall Street speculators. A much better approach is a robust carbon tax combined with strict emission reduction mandates. And the program should incorporate far stronger emission goals than what is in the CLCPA, at least the 52% reduction by 2030 that the Biden administration has adopted,” said Gloria Mattera, Co-Chair of the Green Party of NY.

The Green Party has long advocated for public ownership of the energy industry in order to speed up the transition to clean energy while reducing costs for consumers. Four years after Governor Cuomo first proposed having New York Power Authority (NYPA) build new renewable energy, lawmakers this year passed a stripped-down version of the Build Public Renewables Act.

The Greens urged the state to strengthen the program to have NYPA and the state’s fifty-plus municipal energy systems to immediately begin building such systems everywhere, especially with the private sector now claiming they cannot move forward without increased taxpayer subsidies

“The Green Party believes that public ownership must be coupled with democratic control, starting with NYPA. It also supports the public power reforms being pushed for LIPA and in Rochester,” added Dave Atias, chair of the state party’s EcoAction Committee.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that governments globally provide an annual $6 trillion subsidy to the fossil fuel industry, primarily by failing to make polluters pay for the massive damage they cause. It is estimated that just the increased cost of health care from fossil fuel air pollution cost New Yorkers $50 billion annually.

Even though the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) estimates that the average social cost of carbon is $121 per ton, electricity producers pay less than $15 a ton under the state’s existing cap-and-trade program (RGGI). Last spring, Governor Hochul unsuccessfully sought to weaken the state’s emission reduction goals shortly after the state of Washington’s carbon auction came in at $48.50 a ton. The Governor apparently was worried about how putting a price on carbon would raise the price of fossil fuel products (which is why New York needs to greatly increase the proposed rebate from carbon pricing). Cap-and-trade schemes often fail to produce the desired emission cuts as politicians at the last moment give in to lobbying by polluters to weaken the emissions caps.

Hochul’s pre-proposal on carbon pricing evaded setting a floor on the price of carbon while raising the possibility that electricity producers would be excluded from the new program, even though a prior Congressional report found that RGGI had not been effective in reducing emissions. The Green Party also opposes allowing for the banking and trade of carbon allowances

The Green Party noted that Hochul’s complex cap-and-invest program will be a bonanza for lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry and other special interests, as they fight to win loopholes and giveaways. One area of concern is the push by Hochul and special interests to provide special treatment for industries with the highest level of emissions (called EITEs, Emissions-Intensive, Trade-Exposed industries), such as cement and aluminum, since the CLCPA only requires an 85% reduction in emissions by 2050.

The Green Party also called on the Hochul administration to launch a major education campaign to counter the extensive disinformation campaign of the fossil fuel industry, starting with NYSERDA informing residents about the benefits of implementing the state’s climate action plan as required by the CLCPA.

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  • Sandy Przybylak
    published this page in Press Releases 2023-12-29 10:33:57 -0500