New York would adopt some of the nation’s most aggressive emission reduction goals under a proposal worked out by state leaders and set for a vote in the state Legislature Tuesday night.
Under the proposal, New York would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 and allocate funds for communities hit hard by climate change. The bill would also create intermediate-term goals and mandate regular progress reports to ensure emission reductions are on track to meet the goal.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who negotiated the proposal with top lawmakers, said it would give New York the nation’s best plan to address the causes of climate change.
“Climate change is the issue of our lifetime, frankly,” Cuomo said on public radio Tuesday morning. “I want the most aggressive goal in the country… I don’t think that we have a realistic option.”
If the state is to meet the goal it will have to accelerate the development of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar while also encouraging greater energy efficiency.
Many environmental advocates hailed the proposal. Cuomo has already set ambitious emission reduction goals through administrative regulation, but putting them in state law would make it harder for future administrations to weaken the mandate.
“We hope the commitment we won for New York encourages other states to follow our lead in setting economy-wide, legally mandated emissions targets,” said NY Renews, a coalition of 180 different environmental and community groups that had pushed for the bill. Still, the coalition wasn’t completely satisfied, and criticized Cuomo and lawmakers for dropping some provisions from the bill, including one that would have set aside funds for workforce training for renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs.
Some environmental groups, however, say the plan does little but codify Cuomo’s existing goals. Mark Dunlea, chairman of the Green Education and Legal Fund, called the legislation “disappointing” and said the state doesn’t have 30 years to eliminate most of its carbon emissions.
“While taking action on energy for the first time in decades, the legislature largely just put into law the Governor’s existing climate policies,” said Mark Dunlea, chair of the Green Education and Legal Fund (GELF).
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