Today, 1,000 activists from the Climate Can’t-Wait coalition came from all corners of the state to Albany for an Earth Day protest of the state legislature’s climate inaction. Activists, who had traveled to Albany by bus and bike, with some having departed almost a week prior to the event, demanded prompt passage of 12 critical legislative and advocacy proposals to address the urgency of the incoming crisis.
Climate Can’t Wait groups, representing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, citing two years of climate inaction from state leaders, and a failure for legislative leaders to come to the table on a critical statewide off from fossil fuels in new construction in the NYS Budget earlier this month, as clear indications that New York is not moving fast enough on the incoming climate crisis.
In the meantime, the climate emergency has only accelerated in New York, with increased extreme heat, fires, storms and floods, including Hurricane Ida which took the lives of 42 New Yorkers last year.
“Our legislative leaders are failing us on climate, and New Yorkers won’t take inaction as an answer. Climate can’t wait and neither can we,” said Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Laura Shindell. “Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins must move as fast as the climate crisis is moving towards us. It’s time to pass the nation-leading All-Electric Buildings Act now and with it a full suite of climate policies to fully enforce the CLCPA.”
“I biked to Albany because I believe in the power of regular people to change the world through courageous choices, and the change we need is a healthy and abundant future for all of us New Yorkers. I’m joining the trek to do my part to blaze the trail toward that future, and I’m excited to meet hundreds of other trailblazers along the way,” said Veekas Ashoka, Sunrise NYC, who cycled from Manhattan to Albany for the protest. “New York has the unique opportunity to lead the nation in creating a healthy and abundant future in which all of us—not just the powerful billionaires and corporations—can thrive. The Climate Can’t Wait bill package has given the Governor and Legislature the opportunity to create that hopeful future for us all. It’s our job to demand that they take it.”
“In addition to passing the Climate Can’t Wait bills, we need Governor Hochul and state agencies to ensure that industry complies with the landmark climate law,” said Rosemary Rivera, Co-Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York and an Albany resident. “The CLCPA Scoping Plan should recommend legally enforceable timelines for greenhouse gas reductions, ensure that 40% of energy funds be directly invested in disadvantaged communities, and avoid false solutions like waste incineration and renewable natural gas that harm communities of color. The state must also provide billions of dollars each year to jumpstart the transition to a green energy economy.”
“The United Nations says it is now or never to prevent climate collapse. There is no time left for incremental changes. New York lawmakers are not doing anywhere enough to save life on our planet for future generations. We need our state leaders to act like it is a climate emergency and enact the full Climate Can’t Wait agenda this Earth Day,” said Mark Dunlea, convenor of PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy), the 350.org affiliate in the Capital District. Among other critical environmental justice issues, PAUSE supports converting the state capitol complex with 100% clean renewable energy.
“Our climate is in crisis. New York must stop funding climate destruction; must mandate and enforce greenhouse gas reductions; and must fund a just and equitable transition to renewable energy. The Climate Cant Wait policy package does exactly what is needed. We are proud to be part of this diverse coalition all working together to demand urgent, bold, and comprehensive climate action,” said Ruth Foster, Divest NY.
“We’re here in Albany at this time of crisis because we have solutions,” said Sara Gronim of 350Brooklyn. “The passage of these bills would mean that New York State has returned to the kind of leadership it showed when it passed the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2019. Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Leader Heastie must stand up to fossil fuel interests trying to slow our transformation to a renewable economy and take bold, effective action now.”
“Let’s be honest—the legislature’s failure to pass climate legislation last year and so far this year comes down to leadership,” said Jordan Dale, 350NJ-Rockland. “There is plenty of support in both the Senate and Assembly for climate action, but bills aren’t moving, and that falls squarely on the shoulders of Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie. It is time for them to make climate a priority.”
“New Yorkers have spoken,” said Elaine O’Brien, co-founder and core group member of Queens Climate Project. “We need our legislators to pass meaningful climate legislation, and to protect the frontline communities that suffer the most from the climate crisis. Queens residents have endured the devastating effects of floods and poor air quality resulting from decades of fossil fuel-burning power plants on our waterfront. We organized and beat back the proposed repowering of the NRG facility in Astoria, but now we need Governor Hochul and state leaders to do their part and pass the 12 bills in the Climate Can’t Wait package. Our future depends on their immediate actions. Inaction or delay would be catastrophic.”
“We are running out of chances to prevent climate chaos and the New York State legislature is failing to address this crisis. It’s time for our leaders to live up to their promises and take substantial climate action by enacting the Climate Can’t Wait agenda, cutting ties with the fossil fuel industry, and taking steps to ensure that our generation, and generations to come, will have a healthy, sustainable, and equitable future,” said Sophie Campbell, Executive Director of the New York Youth Climate Leaders.
“It’s been three years since NY lawmakers passed truly significant legislation (the CLCPA) to address the climate crisis we’re in. It’s been a privilege to work with over 40 organizations statewide to compile a package of significant bills and proposals which does just that. Nothing is more important for ensuring environmental justice than ending our dependence on fossil fuels and moving to 100% clean, renewable energy. Our message to legislators is that inaction results in deep and lasting harm. Act immediately and do the right thing by passing the Climate Can’t-Wait 2022 agenda,” said Natalie Polvere and Iris Hiskey Arno, Co-Chairs, NYCD16 Indivisible Environment Committee.
“NYSUT, representing 600,000 educators and health care workers across the state, unanimously endorsed the Build Public Renewables Act at its Representative Assembly on April 2. We want an economy fueled by renewable energy that is safe, clean, publicly-owned and operated for the common good, a system that has strict and strong labor and environmental standards and builds a better world for future generations,” said Nancy Romer, Chair, Environmental Justice Working Group, Professional Staff Congress of CUNY, AFT #2334, delegate to NYSUT.
“Since 2009, we’ve known that both the climate and health impacts of fracking are wildly unacceptable. But New York State continues to heat buildings with oil and with fracked gas — it’s immoral and insane,” said Iris Marie Bloom, Executive Director of Protecting Our Waters, a member of the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition. “We need to forbid fossil fuel use in new construction now, and that’s just one of the dozen aspects of Climate Can’t Wait legislation which we must pass this session. Let’s do this now! It will only be harder, less effective, and more expensive if we wait. Morally and economically, climate can’t wait.”
“New York State can no longer wait to take bold climate action. While special interests encourage our leaders to cling to their dying fossil fuel economy, communities of color are being sickened by their pollution and facing the harsh impacts of climate change, such as extreme heatwaves and flooding,” said Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “We need immediate action to move our state off of these deadly fossil fuels and towards a healthier, renewable energy economy – and the green jobs this transition will create.”
“On Seneca Lake, the Greenidge Generation Bitcoin mining plant is burning fracked gas and emitting greenhouse gases 24/7/365. It is destroying our natural resources, kneecapping local businesses, and keeping us from meeting the crucial climate goals outlined by the CLCPA, just to make fake money in the middle of a climate crisis,” said Abi Buddington, Town of Torrey Property Owner and member of Seneca Lake Guardian. “We need Governor Hochul to protect New Yorkers and enact sane energy policy. I urge her to deny Greenidge’s air permit renewal and put a moratorium on climate-killing cryptomining.”