Polluters Must Pay their Fair Share to Fund the Needed Increase in NY State’s Renewable
to Stabilize the Climate and Protect Health
ALBANY, NY -- New York State must increase public clean energy investments by $4-5.5 billion per year in order to exceed its emission reduction targets, according to a groundbreaking report released today by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at UMass. This level of public investment would generate between 145,000 and 160,000 jobs annually in the first ten years, and could be achieved by placing a fee on climate pollution starting at $35/ton of emissions in 2021. The study is available at this link.
"Governor Cuomo has taken some good steps on climate and clean energy, but New York State is simply not close to being on track even to achieve the state's own goals for renewable energy build out, much less taking adequate action to support global climate stabilization," said Dr. Robert Pollin, lead author of the study and Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. “The Governor has the chance to show visionary leadership on climate change, but he must take action commensurate to the scale and urgency of the problem; this report lays out how."
The release of the study follows on the heels of last month’s announcement from NYSERDA that a total of 150,000 jobs currently exist in clean energy in New York. This level of new clean energy jobs would be created every year with increased state investment in clean energy, according to the PERI study.
“As countries gather for the 23rd U.N. climate conference, this report couldn’t be more timely,” said Jessica Wisneski, Deputy Director at Citizen Action of New York. “Governor Cuomo has pledged to meet and exceed the minimum requirements set by the Paris Climate Accord, and this report demonstrates how he can do that while creating tens of thousands of jobs.”
The study found that these clean energy jobs would cover a range of fields, including engineering, construction, sales, assembly, management, and office support, and that the growth in clean energy jobs would benefit both women and minority workers, who are underrepresented in the fossil fuel sector.
“New York State can protect our families’ health, create hundred of thousands of jobs, and invest in ambitious renewable energy solutions by making corporate polluters pay for the damage they’re doing to our air and our climate,” said Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Deputy Director at PUSH Buffalo. “We’ve known it for decades, and now expert economists are saying it too.”
The authors propose funding the necessary increases in state renewable energy investment with a polluter fee levied per ton of greenhouse gas emissions, rising from $35/ton in 2021 to $75/ton in 2030, which would generate an average of $7.1 billion annually. The study assumes that between a quarter and a half of the polluter fee revenue will be rebated to households. Revenue from a polluter fee will also provide the funding necessary to support workers transitioning out of the fossil fuel industry and into the new energy economy.
The study concludes that this transformative clean energy program can be accomplished at little to no cost to consumers, because the average cost of delivering a given supply of electricity from clean renewable sources will be roughly equal to, if not cheaper than, virtually all fossil-fuel based technologies.