Press release

Big Advance for Climate Policy in New York State Is Only a Stepping Stone for Climate Justice

While Dēmos celebrates the legislation’s strong mandate on emissions reductions, the governor’s exclusion of community investment mandates and labor standards prolongs the fight for climate justice in New York and nationwide.

From Dēmos President K. Sabeel Rahman:

The CLCPA now before the legislature differs in core elements from the CCPA, and ultimately falls short on equity.

The New York State legislature is poised to pass a revised version of the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), introduced by the Governor on Tuesday, June 18 as the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Dēmos stands in solidarity in this historic moment with our partners and members of the NY Renews coalition who have fought for four years to bring the CCPA to passage. Our organization entered the fight to pass the CCPA because this bill not only set aggressive greenhouse emissions reduction targets for New York, it was also designed to address racial and economic inequality. The CLCPA now before the legislature differs in core elements from the CCPA, and ultimately falls short on equity.

The CLCPA puts New York on an ambitious path to reduce 85 percent of greenhouse emissions economy-wide by 2050, and commits our state to carbon-free renewable electricity generation by 2040. However, we are deeply concerned that the governor’s bill weakens core provisions that made the original CCPA a strong racial, social, and economic justice bill. 

One such provision mandated 40 percent of the state’s clean energy funding be invested for the benefit of pollution-burdened low-income communities. The governor’s bill replaces this funding mandate with a more ambiguous 35 percent mandate on the “overall benefits of funding” that the state must reach “to the extent practicable.” This target is less concrete than a funding mandate and could be unenforceable. The CLCPA thus fails to guarantee a standard of climate investments for marginalized communities. Dēmos urges concerted advocacy for measurable and impactful community investment during the planning and implementation of the new policy to ensure funding be directed to disadvantaged communities.  

 The Governor’s CLCPA also removes entirely a provision establishing job quality and training standards for employment created in a transition to a renewable energy economy, while retaining a one-line reference to extant prevailing wage law. A recent Dēmos report estimates that investments needed to achieve the CCPA’s emissions goals will create over 200,000 jobs in the first decade of a renewable energy transition. The State needs to ensure that these will be good jobs that adhere to strong labor standards for the benefit of working families. Without these protections, New York will fall short in creating good jobs that New Yorkers deserve.

The CCPA was crafted to ensure that the goals of emissions reductions and racial and economic justice are mutually reinforcing. The bill now before the legislature adopts several provisions  developed by NY Renews to protect communities at the front lines of climate change and pollution, including regulatory criteria for equitable policy implementation and reduction of co-pollutants, establishment of a Climate Justice Working Group to guide clean energy investment and pollution protections, and a strong set of restrictions for alternative compliance mechanisms such as carbon offsets.

The CLCPA, however, pursues emissions reductions goals without the comprehensive commitment to equity and justice originally designed in the CCPA. While Dēmos celebrates the legislation’s strong mandate on emissions reductions—the direct result of years of grassroots organizing led by environmental and racial justice organizations at the heart of NY Renews—the governor’s exclusion of community investment mandates and labor standards prolongs the fight for climate justice in New York and nationwide.

Dēmos will continue to push for bold climate action with our partners and allies, in order to provide the strongest possible protections and opportunities for communities and workers on the front lines of the climate crisis.

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