Testimony of Michael O'Neil at New York State Senate Hearing on Climate Change

Remarks at public hearing February 21, 2019, in Syracuse

My name is Michael O'Neil, and I live on the Southside of Syracuse.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they lose.

But in New York State politics, it's probably more accurate to say first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they offer you half of what you've been asking for on their own sweet timeline, and expect you to be grateful.

Since 2010 I have worked for Green Party campaigns that called for a Green New Deal to get us to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030. That deadline came from the science of NASA's James Hansen and Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research in the U.K.

Testimony after testimony today has cited "the best available science". "We have to follow the science." "The best science, in fact!". We're not climate deniers, here! Great. Let's look at the best science. The best science, when not filtered through the fossil-fuel enriched governments that have to approve IPCC reports, says that in order to avoid playing roulette with runaway climate catastrophe, we need to stay at or below 1 degree Centigrade and 350 parts per million of Carbon. And to do that, we need to achieve 100% clean renewable energy by 2030.

The CCPA's goal of 50% greenhouse gas reduction by 2030 and 100% by 2050 carries existential risks for humankind. To behave as if 2050 is a satisfactory deadline is to deny those risks. It is tantamount to climate denialism.

And that's why I agree with earlier testimony to combine the strongest parts of CCPA, the New York OFF Fossil Fuels Act and the Green New Deal for New York Act for a 2030 decarbonization target in line with the science.

But surely a half a loaf of bread is better than none! True. But half of a parachute is as good as no parachute at all.

The climate will not grade us on a curve, and neither will our grandchildren. They won't care what was politically difficult for us.

Please strengthen the CCPA's commitment to environmental justice by drawing from the New York OFF Fossils Act and the Green New Deal for New York Act to add a 2030 deadline for 100% decarbonization, and a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure.

We need a Just Transition to a publicly-owned, democratically controlled renewable power system, and we need a World War 2-scale program of public jobs and public financing to get there. Connect climate security with economic security. That will be a historic accomplishment, New York can blaze the trail, and you could be part of that.