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CNY advocates push for statewide climate initiatives

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Local environmentalists and social justice advocates are part of a statewide initiative to make sure New York’s climate law meets its deadlines.

NY Renews’ Climate, Jobs and Justice Package offers lawmakers a roadmap for kickstarting a renewable economy in the state. Amber Ruther, an organizing coordinator at the Alliance for a Green Economy said the package has three main focuses.

“Number one is to fully fund and implement New York’s Climate Act, which is the Climate and Community Protection Fund," Ruther said. "Number two is to build renewable energy for all and create good paying union jobs. The third is to make polluters and the ultra-rich pay, what they owe for the climate devastation they are wreaking on us and our planet.”

But Ruther is worried the state won’t reach benchmarks set for 2030.

"I fear that our legislators in Albany are moving at a snail's pace, and they’re refusing to take the climate crisis as seriously as it needs to be taken," Ruther said.

Advocates are pressuring legislators to pass an agenda in the 2023 legislative session that involves a package of investments and laws that would help implement the state’s plan. One of the biggest initiatives they’re pushing, involves funding, by creating a Climate and Community Protection fund.

Heather Deans, Syracuse Project Coordinator with NYPIRG, said that the Fossil Fuel industry should be on the hook for payment because it has created the climate crisis.

"This act requires that the companies most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions pay a total of $30 billion over the next 10 years," Deans said. "It funds statewide upgrades to infrastructure; such as roads, bridges, mass transit, storm water drainage and sewer treatment systems. It protects the power grid from increasingly severe weather events. And it creates new systems to protect people from extreme heat."

Since New York’s Climate Act was passed in 2019, organizers say the state hasn’t come up with any funding or policy changes that would help it meet the legislation's goals; which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, and 85% by 2050.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.