New York Passes Historic Climate Bill

The nation-leading plan sets the strongest greenhouse gas emission limits in the country while prioritizing the most at-risk communities.  

Jean Boris Hamon/Flickr

Governor Cuomo passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act last Wednesday, which establishes the strongest greenhouse gas emissions limits in the United States and prioritizes equity in their implementation. “Thanks to the tireless activism, grit, and determination of countless advocates and state leaders who heeded the urgency, New York is now in a league of its own on climate action,” says Rhea Suh, president of NRDC.

The bill reduces the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 and offsets the rest with strategies like improved forestry practices, which allows land to absorb more carbon. The law also significantly boosts reliance on renewables—requiring 70 percent of the state’s electricity to come from sources like wind and solar by 2030 and increasing that to 100 percent by 2040.

To address the disproportionate impacts of pollution and climate change on disadvantaged communities, the plan also stipulates that no less than 35 percent of its benefits go to historically marginalized communities and that environmental justice and labor representatives meaningfully engage in the implementation. “As the state channels significant resources toward the immense task of decarbonizing the economy, it should account for the long legacy of these disproportionate burdens and ensure that historical injustices are rectified,” said Miles Farmer and Jackson Morris, both from NRDC’s Climate & Clean Energy program.

A prior version of the bill failed to pass each of the past three years, unable to move through the Senate. Thanks to the newly elected Democratic-controlled Senate, as well as substantial traction achieved by the New York Renews Coalition, the bill is now awaiting approval by Governor Cuomo.

“This bill will help fundamentally transform the state’s economy, slash climate pollution, and help create a more just and equitable society,” Suh says. “There is no doubt that New York’s leadership sets the bar for the rest of the nation.”

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