Elected officials, youth activists and community leaders from across Queens rallied at Astoria Park Monday to call for movement on the New York Climate and Community Investment Act (CCIA) in Albany.
With the state legislative session drawing to a close on June 10, those assembled at the waterfront park urged swift passage of the bills that would “make polluters pay,” raising $10 to $15 billion per year over the next decade through a fee on greenhouse gases and co-pollutants.
“By passing the CCIA, what we’re doing is saying that we have the money to make the commitment that we’ve been talking about for such a long time,” state Senator Jessica Ramos said. “It’s putting money where our mouth is. It’s making sure it’s not just paying lip service to climate change to the catastrophe that mankind has created here on Earth but for us to really make sure that our communities are centered in the solution of reversing decades and centuries of polluting and bad behavior on our behalf. We’re still a long way to go and there’s still a lot of work to do, but I’m glad we’re doing it together and it’s really important we get this bill passed as soon as possible so that we can save our planet.”
The fee would largely be paid by the companies importing fossil fuels into New York, and would ensure the dedicated revenue necessary to meet the goals set forward in the state’s landmark climate legislation, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which was passed two years ago.
Shiv Soin, executive director of youth-led climate group TREEage, said that it was time for action, pointing out the creation of much-needed jobs besides addressing the climate crisis.
“This is not only a climate bill; this is a climate justice bill, an economic stimulus bill, a bill for our future,” Soin said. “And that’s exactly what we need in this time and the future for our city and state.”
Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas said that although the Legislature passed the historic CLCPA in 2019, “it does not have teeth unless” the CCIA is passed.
“I am so proud to have been five months in the state Legislature and I’ve been throwing down with the climate justice colleagues to finally have a fully invested CLCPA and pass the CCIA for once and for all,” González-Rojas said.
The revenue raised by the CCIA would fund an estimated 160,000 green jobs, the development of renewable energy infrastructure, and investment in communities hit hardest by the climate crisis. Low- and moderate-income New Yorkers could also automatically receive a yearly tax credit of $700.”
Assemblyman Ron Kim said that getting the climate and energy right will lead to an “abundant economy.”
“The cost of energy will reach near zero every time we use energy,” Kim said. “That’s what we should be striving for, not marketizing, not profiting, not exploiting the value of local communities which is what has been the normalized condition for so many years. But by holding large corporations accountable, we can get to a better place and we can have a radical new deal. So I support it, and let’s get to work”
The Astoria Park rally was one of 15 that took place across the state, each calling for the passage of the CCIA.
“The landmark legislation that we passed a couple of years ago was in many ways aspirational,” state Senator John Liu said. “This is what we need to do: We need to make polluters pay. We need to make sure they understand that by polluting, they are imposing a cost on everyone else.”
Climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, one of the main organizers of Fridays for Future in New York City and co-founder of Re-Earth Initiative, rallied for the CLPCA in Albany and realized the power the youth movement has to implement strong climate protection measures.
Bastida was excited that the COVID-19 pandemic was nearing its end, and the youth movement could galvanize and take to the streets again.
“The CLPCA and the CCIA is the baseline, is the minimum we can have for climate justice in the city,” Bastida said. “We are going to keep pushing for more climate legislation, for legislation that works for communities, for legislation that transitions to renewable energy.”
City Council candidate Tiffany Cabán also attended the rally. Cabán supports the CCIA, which would fund energy rebates, community projects such as tenant-owned solar and the transition of fossil-dependent workers and communities.
“The beautiful thing about this that’s so important is that in my mind is yes, it provides a stimulus, and it’s going to create jobs, but it also opens up the conversation around climate reparations and making sure that we are deeply investing in the communities that have been on the front lines and born the brunt of the climate crisis,” Cabán said.
Additional reporting by Gabriele Holtermann