- Historic Coalition Unites Labor, Environmentalists & Grassroots Organizations in Push for Climate Action

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Group Aims for NY to Be Climate Leader with Nation’s Strongest Clean, Renewable Energy Bill

NYS Climate & Community Protection Act Would Help Create New Green Economy, Provide Social Justice for Those Most Impacted by Climate Change

Albany – Demanding good jobs, healthier communities, and frontline justice with 100% clean, renewable energy, hundreds of New Yorkers converged on the State Capitol on Wednesday to call on Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers to support the NYS Climate & Community Protection Act (A.10342) – the nation’s strongest climate protection bill. NY Renews, a historic group of labor, environmental, and grassroots organizations, is coming together for the first time to trailblaze a new front in the fight against climate change – pushing the climate protection debate from an environmental discussion to an economic and social justice one.

“While climate change is everyone’s issue, low-income, working class, and communities of color are impacted to a greater degree than other communities. From New Orleans to the Rockaways, we have seen that when climate crisis hits, people of color are disproportionately affected,” said Eddie Bautista, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance Executive Director.

While global warming impacts everyone, climate change has had a devastating impact on New York’s low-income, of-color, immigrant, and other vulnerable communities. Extreme weather destroys upstate farmers’ crops and keeps low-wage hourly employees from getting to work. Air pollution exacerbates chronic health conditions, triggering asthma attacks and other health problems, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. When a major storm hits, poor communities are the last to see relief. When Sandy hit NYC in 2012, approximately 80,000 people residing in over 400 NYCHA buildings lost essential services such as electricity, elevator use, heat, and hot water. Long-standing problems with toxic mold were revealed and exacerbated, and rodent infestations surged. 

“When climate change disasters strike, working families too often get hit first and hardest,” said SEIU 32BJ President Hector Figueroa. “We saw that when Hurricane Sandy hit New York, and many of our members were among the New Yorkers who struggled to rebuild their homes and their communities. Combating climate change is a social justice issue. That’s why we’re urging Governor Cuomo and Albany lawmakers to support the NYS Climate & Community Protection Act, which would provide the protections from climate change that working people need and invest in green infrastructure and good green jobs to ensure a brighter, healthier future.”

The NYS Climate & Community Protection Act would make climate and clean energy commitments legally enforceable, enshrining a NYS commitment to fully eliminating climate pollution by 2050. It would set specific benchmarks and reporting requirements to ensure emissions reductions, rapid deployment of clean, renewable energy. And it would ensure the new clean energy economy creates good jobs by applying a prevailing wage to both construction and operations projects that include energy spending.

Building off of the success of the People’s Climate March, NY Renews is working to not only move to a new energy economy, but to do so in a way that will create thousands of good paying jobs, protect front-line communities that deal with environmental issues every day, and strengthen and provide economic opportunities for all New Yorkers, particularly those who are living in low-income and communities of color.

NY Renews unites community leaders, grassroots activists, unions, and environmental justice advocates, as well as immigrants, workers, and people of color. Nearly 60 of the most influential progressive organizations in NYS politics have joined NY Renews – including SEIU 32BJ & 1199, Make the Road New York, Communications Workers of America District 1, Sierra Club, UPROSE, PUSH Buffalo, and New York Working Families.

“NY Renews is a game changer for thousands of families living on the front lines of climate change in Buffalo. We are pleased to see that this legislation is advancing in the State Legislature. Passing these reforms is the right thing to do for our people, for our planet, and for the health of our communities,” said Franchelle Hart, Executive Director of Open Buffalo.

“PCM-NY has primarily focused on changing policies in New York City, but we are excited to be part of this dynamic statewide coalition. When grassroots climate activists, labor organizers, community groups, and long standing environmental organizations come together we are a force that cannot be ignored by policymakers in Albany. Today, we are bringing our commitment to urgent action and the breadth of our movement to press for bold steps that will make New York a leader in the global efforts that stem from the climate crisis,” said Leslie Cagan, coordinator of the People’s Climate Movement-NY.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge facing us today, and we have a moral obligation to reduce the pollution that fuels it. It’s critical that Governor Cuomo’s climate and clean energy goals be set into law, ensuring that 100 percent of New York’s energy will come from clean, renewable sources by 2050. Decisive action will transform and grow our economy, ensure good jobs, and invest in communities shortchanged by polluters. New York State can be a global climate action leader, and it is that potential that New Yorkers are asking the Governor and their legislators to harness and make a reality,” said Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director for Environmental Advocates of New York.

###