‘It will save lives’: Queens BP Richards, City Council members announce resolution for climate change legislation

Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards joined several New York City Council members in introducing a resolution supporting the Climate Action Council Scoping Plan on May 19.

In the resolution, Richards and the council members called upon the Climate Action Council (CAC) and Governor Kathy Hochul to fully implement the clean energy and zero greenhouse gas emissions reduction standards of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).

Passed in 2019, the CLCPA is nationally regarded for having the strongest greenhouse gas reduction requirements in the country, including a commitment for New York to achieve a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 and a 100% zero-emission electric sector by 2040. The CAC is currently holding statewide hearings in preparation for developing a final scoping plan that will guide the regulatory, legislative and budgetary actions New York will take in order to reach these goals.

According to Richards, the future of CLCPA and the state’s clean energy agendas have been jeopardized by powerful fossil fuel companies spending millions to undermine the state’s climate and environmental justice mandates. Due to these concerns, the resolution, titled “Climate Plan to Protect New York,” was made to demonstrate that the authoritative voice of the Council — as representatives of over 8 million city residents — is still behind the full implementation of the CLCPA and to call on the CAC and Governor Hochul to ensure that its clean energy, climate justice and climate change policy targets are met.

“Climate change isn’t some future threat,” Richards said. “From Superstorm Sandy to Hurricane Ida and beyond, climate change has already ravaged this borough on more than one occasion. Fully implementing and funding the historic Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act will not only ensure New York’s place as a global leader on sustainability and renewable energy, it will save lives and protect our communities from future storms.”

According to Richards, nearly 70% of New York City’s power is currently being produced by dirty fossil fuel combustion and low-income and communities of color are bearing an inequitable burden of pollution. The resolution is intended to send the message that climate change is a clear and present threat to the health and sustainability of the city’s communities and the state must keep its promise by meeting the clean energy goals of the CLCPA.

There are four key provisions within the resolution:

  • Decarbonizing New York City’s building stock will require an aggressive push toward large-scale building electrification, widespread equitable access to air source and geothermal heat pumps and energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits.
  • The Scoping Plan should include recommendations in support of all newly constructed buildings being all-electric by 2024, full electrification of building stock statewide and the cessation of marketing and incentives for gas and fuel oil.
  • No new or repowered fossil fuel power plants should be permitted in New York.
  • The recommendations of the State’s Climate Justice and Just Transition Working Groups and frontline environmental justice leaders must be incorporated into the final recommendations for the Scoping Plan, including year-by-year targets for transitioning to zero-emissions electricity, widespread transportation electrification and enhancement of transit, smart growth and reduced vehicle miles traveled (VMT) through bike and pedestrian infrastructure expansions.

Richards was joined by City Council members Lincoln Restler, James Gennaro, Shahana Hanif, Carmen De La Rosa, Jennifer Gutiérrez and Kevin Riley in creating this resolution.