Sunday, July 28, 2019

New York mandates Bold Cuts in Greenhouse Gas Emissions to address Climate Change

Transition from Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy 
will Cut Emissions and create New Jobs

By David Kowalski

On July 18, 2019, NY Gov. Cuomo signed into law the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). It is the most ambitious legal mandate in the nation for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The CLCPA mandates:

- by 2030, 70% of electricity will be generated by emission-free, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar

- by 2040, electricity generation will have zero greenhouse gas emissions

- by 2050, 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, and a goal of net-zero emissions in all sectors of the economy

The CLCPA has specific goals and timelines for different types of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Distributed solar is expected to have a capacity of six gigawatts by 2025. Offshore wind is expected to reach nine gigawatts of capacity by 2035. There's a target for energy efficiency improvements (a 185 trillion BTU reduction by 2025) and storage (3 gigawatts by 2030) as well.

When he signed the CLCPA, Cuomo announced some initial steps toward the goals, including contracts for two offshore wind power projects that will generate 1.7 gigawatts, enough electricity to power 1 million homes. These wind power projects will create 1,600 unionized jobs and over $3 billion of economic activity.

Cuomo said there would be nearly $280 million in new investments in infrastructure to distribute the power and a $20 million program at the state university system to train clean energy workers.

The CLCPA also focuses on adaptation mechanisms, including increasing the resilience of infrastructure to withstand disasters. The legislation also establishes a process ensuring that investments from clean energy and energy efficiency funds benefit frontline communities that have been historically burdened by pollution or are at high risk from the effects of climate change.

Achieving drastic emissions cuts will also require tackling transportation, the largest source of emissions in the state, and buildings where natural gas and other fuels are the primary source of heating.

A 22-member panel, which will include state agency commissioners and others appointed by Cuomo and legislative leaders, will be given broad authority and three years to come up with a "scoping plan" to recommend changes the state can make to reduce its emissions. Specific industries or areas, such as transportation, will be the focus of sub-panels.

The text of the CLCPA is here.

NY's Master Plan for Offshore Wind Power is here.

Grid-sized Battery Storage Facility under construction | NY Times photo
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UPDATE: 8.01.2019

$1.1B Niagara Power Project upgrade is NYPA's biggest investment ever

ALBANY – The New York Power Authority will invest $1.1 billion in a massive modernization effort at the Niagara Power Project, the state’s largest producer of electricity.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in a statement announcing the investment Wednesday, said the project will help the state meet its ambitious plans to transition a carbon-free energy system throughout New York by 2040.

“The Niagara Power Project is New York’s largest source of clean electricity and this modernization project will allow it to continue operating for another 50 years," Cuomo said in a statement.

Read the article in The Buffalo News

NY Renews Coalition Comments on Governor Signing Ambitious Climate Bill into Law

NY Renews, a coalition of over 180 environmental, justice, faith, labor, and community groups released the following statement on the Climate Leadership and  Community Protection Act:

“Today, the Governor signed the nation’s most ambitious climate bill into law. This would not have been possible without years of work from community, environmental, labor, and justice organizations throughout the state.

For four years, NY Renews has done the meaningful work of uniting New Yorkers under the banner of climate, jobs, and justice. Our coalition put forth nation-leading policy to address the climate crisis while investing in the communities most impacted by the effects of climate change.

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act makes New York the nation’s leader in legally-mandated emissions cuts. For the future of humanity and our planet, we need to move off fossil fuels towards a renewable economy, and we hope we can inspire other states to follow our lead on bold climate action.

In addition, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act includes a climate and equity screen, to make sure climate policies do not disproportionately burden environmental justice communities. It also includes a commitment to allocate 35% of the benefits of state climate funding to communities on the frontlines of the crisis. Given the Governor’s dismissal of environmental justice priorities throughout the legislative session, it is clear that these provisions were included in the final bill due to overwhelming public pressure from New Yorkers across the state.

NY State Assembly Passes Climate Leadership And Community Protection Act

Legislation sets the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050, and having net zero emissions in all sectors of the economy

Speaker Carl Heastie and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright today announced Assembly passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a comprehensive bill that sets critical environmental standards, including reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy in order to address and mitigate the effects of climate change (A.8429, Englebright).

"Climate change is already having adverse effects on communities here in New York, and if it continues unchecked, it will wreak havoc on our environment, our economy and on the everyday lives of New Yorkers," Speaker Heastie said. "As the administration in Washington rolls back environmental protections, the Assembly Majority will continue to lead the way in developing green energy alternatives and sustainable policies and practices."

"People across the state, from Buffalo to Long Island, have urged New York to act on climate change. I am proud that the Assembly Majority has led the way on this issue and has now passed the most comprehensive climate legislation in the nation. This bill sets New York on a course for a sustainable future by transitioning our state to clean renewable energy, unleashing the genius of American industry, and ensuring good paying jobs that work for all New Yorkers," said Assemblymember Englebright.

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act would require that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) establish:
  •  Statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits by regulation, to reduce emissions 85 percent by 2050;
  • Regulations to achieve statewide greenhouse gas emissions reductions; and
  • A process ensuring that a minimum of 35 percent of investments from clean energy and energy efficiency funds are invested in disadvantaged communities.
The legislation would also establish a Climate Justice Working Group, consisting of representatives from environmental justice communities, DEC and the Departments of Health and Labor. The working group would identify disadvantaged communities for the purposes of reducing co-pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions and the allocation of certain investments.

NY State Senate Passes Historic Climate Leadership And Community Protection Act

Albany, NY -- The Senate today [5.19.2019] passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) to address and mitigate the effects of climate change by drastically cutting greenhouse gases, diverting the state’s energy reliance to renewable sources, and creating green jobs to promote environmental justice across New York State. This bill is the most comprehensive and aggressive climate change legislation in the nation.

"Today marks a historic day for New York State in the fight against climate change," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. "As our leaders in Washington fail to take action, New York needs to lead in this time of great crises for our planet. I commend Senator Todd Kaminsky for championing this bill and protecting New York's future generations."

Bill Sponsor and Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, Senator Todd Kaminsky, said, “While Washington is asleep at the wheel, New York is leading the way. The CLCPA will virtually eliminate New York’s greenhouse gasses, foster renewable energy production, create green jobs, invest in lower-income communities, and protect our planet. New Yorkers and the world cannot wait any longer. This is the moment for bold, global change--and I’m proud to say New York is leading the nation.”

The Senate Majority held a series of hearings on the Climate Leadership and Community Protect Act (CLCPA), led by Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, Senator Todd Kaminsky, in Albany, New Paltz, Syracuse, New York City, and Long Island. These hearings allowed concerned citizens, stakeholders, and environmental experts to provide testimony on how climate change has impacted their communities and recommendations for New York State moving forward.

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, S.6599, will:
  •     Minimize the adverse impacts of climate change by reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions.
  •     Improve the state’s resiliency to the certain effects and risks of climate change.
  •     Ensure that the ongoing transition of the state's energy sector will create good jobs and protect workers and communities during the transition process.
  •     Prioritize the safety and health of disadvantaged communities, control the potential regressive impacts of future climate change mitigation, and adopt policies for these communities.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Climate Crisis is Our Third World War -- Requires a Bold Response

The climate crisis is our third world war. It needs a bold response

Joseph Stiglitz | June 4, 2019 | The Guardian

Critics of the Green New Deal ask if we can afford it. 
But we can’t afford not to: our civilization is at stake.

Advocates of the Green New Deal say there is great urgency in dealing with the climate crisis and highlight the scale and scope of what is required to combat it. They are right. They use the term “New Deal” to evoke the massive response by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the United States government to the Great Depression. An even better analogy would be the country’s mobilization to fight World War II.

Critics ask, “Can we afford it?” and complain that Green New Deal proponents confound the fight to preserve the planet, to which all right-minded individuals should agree, with a more controversial agenda for societal transformation. On both accounts the critics are wrong.

Yes, we can afford it, with the right fiscal policies and collective will. But more importantly, we must afford it. The climate emergency is our third world war. Our lives and civilization as we know it are at stake, just as they were in the second world war.

When the US was attacked during the second world war no one asked, “Can we afford to fight the war?” It was an existential matter. We could not afford not to fight it. The same goes for the climate crisis. Here, we are already experiencing the direct costs of ignoring the issue – in recent years the country has lost almost 2% of GDP in weather-related disasters, which include floods, hurricanes, and forest fires. The cost to our health from climate-related diseases is just being tabulated, but it, too, will run into the tens of billions of dollars – not to mention the as-yet-uncounted number of lives lost. We will pay for climate breakdown one way or another, so it makes sense to spend money now to reduce emissions rather than wait until later to pay a lot more for the consequences – not just from weather but also from rising sea levels. It’s a cliche, but it’s true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The war on the climate emergency, if correctly waged, would actually be good for the economy – just as the second world war set the stage for America’s golden economic era , with the fastest rate of growth in its history amidst shared prosperity. The Green New Deal would stimulate demand, ensuring that all available resources were used; and the transition to the green economy would likely usher in a new boom. Trump’s focus on the industries of the past, like coal, is strangling the much more sensible move to wind and solar power. More jobs by far will be created in renewable energy than will be lost in coal.

Read more at The Guardian

Joseph E Stiglitz is a university professor at Columbia, the 2001 recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, a former chief economist of the World Bank and the author, most recently, of People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent
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Thursday, June 27, 2019

U.S. Fossil Fuel Subsidies Exceed Pentagon Spending, says International Monetary Fund Report

Study: U.S. Fossil Fuel Subsidies Exceed Pentagon Spending

The world would be richer and healthier if the full costs of fossil fuels were paid, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund

By Tim Dickinson | May 8, 2019

The United States has spent more subsidizing fossil fuels in recent years than it has on defense spending, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF found that direct and indirect subsidies for coal, oil and gas in the U.S. reached $649 billion in 2015. Pentagon spending that same year was $599 billion.

The study defines “subsidy” very broadly, as many economists do. It accounts for the “differences between actual consumer fuel prices and how much consumers would pay if prices fully reflected supply costs plus the taxes needed to reflect environmental costs” and other damage, including premature deaths from air pollution.

These subsidies are largely invisible to the public, and don’t appear in national budgets. But according the the IMF, the world spent $4.7 trillion — or 6.3 percent of global GDP — in 2015 to subsidize fossil fuel use, a figure it estimated rose to $5.2 trillion in 2017. China, which is heavily reliant on coal and has major air-pollution problems, was the largest subsidizer by far, at $1.4 trillion in 2015. But the U.S. ranked second in the world.

The human, environmental and economic toll of these subsidies is shocking to the conscience. The authors found that if fossil fuels had been fairly priced in 2015, global carbon emissions would have been slashed by 28 percent. Deaths from fossil fuel-linked air pollution would have dropped by nearly half.

Oil, gas and coal companies — and their stooges in public office — have long argued that making consumers pay for the full impacts of fossil fuel use would cripple the economy. The IMF experts call bs on this idea, revealing that the world would, in fact, be more prosperous. Eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels would have created global “net economic welfare gains” in 2015 of “more than $1.3 trillion, or 1.7 percent of global GDP,” the study found. (These net gains are “calculated as the benefits from reduced environmental damage and higher revenue minus the losses from consumers facing higher energy prices.”)

For the United States, the $649 billion in fossil fuel subsidies exceeded even the extravagant amount of money the country spent on defense. To offer a sense of scale, Pentagon spending accounted for 54 percent of the discretionary federal budget in 2015. In comparison to another important, but less well-funded part of the federal budget, fossil fuel subsidies were nearly 10 times what Congress spent on education. Broken down to an individual level, fossil fuel subsidies cost every man, woman and child in the United States $2,028 that year.

At the opening of the IMF’s spring meetings in April, Managing Director Christine Lagarde laid out the benefits she sees in properly pricing fossil fuels. “The numbers are quite staggering” she said, referring to the savings that could be achieved “fiscally, but also in terms of human life, if there had been the right price on carbon emission as of 2015.”

Lagarde continued to rattle off the benefits to humanity of realizing these savings. “There would be more public spending available to build hospitals, to build roads, to build schools and to support education and health for the people,” she said.

For Lagarde and the IMF, the conclusion was obvious: “We believe that removing fossil fuel subsidies is the right way to go.”

Link to the article at Rolling Stone here

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

ENERGY: Report finds strong bipartisan support for 100% clean, renewable energy -- Majority see economic benefits

Yale Program on Climate Change Communication

REPORT: Energy in the American Mind -- December 2018

By Anthony Leiserowitz, Edward Maibach, Seth Rosenthal, John Kotcher, Abel Gustafson, Parrish Bergquist, Matthew Ballew and Matthew Goldberg

Executive Summary

Drawing on a nationally representative survey (N = 1,114; including 966 registered voters), this report describes Americans’ energy-related beliefs, attitudes, consumer behaviors, and support for different energy policies. Among other important results, we found strong bipartisan support for requiring electric utilities to use 100% clean, renewable energy, that a majority of Americans say transitioning to clean, renewable energy will benefit the economy, and that support for renewable energy research has increased by 30 percentage points among conservative Republicans over the past five years.

Beliefs and Attitudes about Clean, Renewable Energy

  • Most Americans consider both “clean energy” and “renewable energy” to be good things. Liberal Democrats were more likely to rate the term “clean energy” (99%) positively than “renewable energy” (83%), while conservative Republicans were more likely to rate the term “renewable energy” (63%) positively than “clean energy” (46%).
  • About six in ten Americans consider coal energy (62%) to be “moderately” or more harmful to people’s health. Democrats (76%) are more likely than Republicans (57%) to say that coal is harmful. About half of Americans (53%) say nuclear energy is harmful. In contrast, almost no Americans think solar (5%) or wind energies (5%) are harmful to people’s health.
  • A majority of Americans (58%) – including three in four Democrats (75%) – think policies intended to transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy will improve economic growth and create new jobs. Only 18% of Americans – and 7% of Democrats – think such policies will reduce growth and jobs. More Republicans think such a transition will improve economic growth (39%) than reduce it (31%).
  • Americans’ most important reasons to support a transition to 100% clean, renewable energy are reducing water pollution (75%), reducing air pollution (74%), and providing a better life for our children and grandchildren (72%).
  • About seven in ten Americans (71%; including 87% of Democrats and 51% of Republicans) think clean energy should be a “high” or “very high” priority for the president and Congress. Very few Americans (7%, including 3% of Democrats and 11% of Republicans) think it should be a “low” priority.
  • A majority of Americans (61%) – including about eight in ten Democrats (79%) – think that if all nations switch to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050, it will be “moderately” or “very” effective at limiting global warming.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Help Pass Strong Climate Legislation in NYS Now -- Take Action!

We are on the verge of passing the strongest climate legislation in the country, right here in New York!
But Governor Cuomo, who says he supports strong climate legislation, is not standing as the bold leader he’d like us to believe he is and has called proposed legislation “a political placebo.” 
We need to tell him to get his priorities straight and pass a strong Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) now.

It's more important than ever to Call Governor Cuomo and Email Your Representatives to tell them it is beyond time to pass a strong CCPA!

It's EASY: simply Click the Link above and select Call or Email. A message is supplied.

Despite Cuomo’s feet dragging, pressure to #PassTheCCPA is at its all time high. Our New York congresspeople endorsed this landmark legislation this week, from Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Brian Higgins and most other members of the NY congressional delegation (see letter and signatories, below).
The time is now. Let’s get this done. Let’s pass the CCPA this legislative session!

~  Environmental Advocates of New York -

Endorsement of the Climate and Community Protection Act by U.S. Representatives 
(click images to enlarge):