Skip to main content

Tip Sheets

Gov. Cuomo expected to sign NY climate bill, a magnet for green business

Media Contact

Lindsey Hadlock

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, legislation that sets the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050, has been sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and could be signed as early as tomorrow.

The following Cornell University experts are available to speak with the media about this bill.

The New York state climate change initiative is arguably the most bold, ambitious and comprehensive in the nation. It not only establishes our leadership in addressing climate change impacts, but also will be a magnet for attracting renewable energy businesses to New York and create new job opportunities.

An important aspect of this initiative is that it acknowledges the natural ‘geoengineering’ role our farms and forests can play in capturing and storing carbon in soils and trees, and thereby reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The initiative includes many important details to ensure that any measures taken to reduce emissions or sequester carbon are verifiable and also do not have unintended negative consequences for the environment or communities.

Robert Howarth

Robert Howarth

David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology

The goals of this bill are aspirational. It provides little detail as to how the targets are to be met, but does commit the state to finding the way forward. An important consideration is the requirement that the Department of Environmental Conservation explicitly consider climate change in all permitting decisions. Another important point is to make renewable energy more accessible to economically disadvantaged communities, and to find ways to reduce the impacts of climate disruption on these communities.

Although the earlier targets in the CLCPA focus on renewable electricity, overall the bill is about much more. The number one and number two sectors of our economy for greenhouse gas emissions are residential and commercial heating, and transportation. We in New York need to start reducing these emissions now, both to meet the 2050 goal and to address the urgency of climate disruption. The best path forward is to electrify heating and transportation, as laid out in our peer-reviewed energy plan published in 2013.

The CLCPA also mandates a new approach for addressing methane as a greenhouse gas. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, and accounts for more than 20 percent of human-caused global warming. However, under current practices as used by all states and the federal government, the importance of methane is hugely underestimated. The new bill rectifies this, using an approach recommended by me and adopted by Cornell and Tompkins County back in 2016.

David M. Lodge

David M. Lodge

Atkinson Center Director

The ambitious targets of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act demonstrate the vision and leadership needed to spur innovative solutions for all facets of the environmental and economic challenges that lie ahead.

A statewide plan that encompasses all of New York, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, can ensure rural and urban communities—and the food, water and energy systems that connect them—can adapt and remain resilient in the face of our changing climate.

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.