1000 people pack hall to question key electeds on concrete actions on the climate crisis
New York, NY — A thousand New Yorkers packed into the New York Society for Ethical Culture this evening for the #GreenNewDeal4NY Accountability Forum, urging key local and state officials to take bold, transformative action to tackle the climate and inequality crisis.
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Deputy Secretary for Energy and Environment Dale Bryk addressed the crowd. Each were challenged by a panel and the audience to outline their vision for building a Green New Deal for New York, similar in scope and ambition to the vision outlined by the Sunrise Movement and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Speaking on behalf of the Governor, Deputy Secretary Bryk reiterated the administration’s commitment to his program, which includes 70% renewable energy on the grid by 2030 and carbon-free electricity by 2040. Bryk highlighted the Governor’s commitment to divesting the state’s insurance fund and other public authorities from fossil fuels, and to pushing the state pension fund, whose sole trustee is Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, to divest from oil, gas and coal.
Much of the crowd, along with many organizing groups, are pushing for more aggressive action, including urging the Governor to support existing legislation such as the Off Fossil Fuels Act and the Climate and Community Protection Act. This would help deliver 100% renewable energy across the economy, delivering tens of thousands of good, union jobs and massively investing in low-income communities and communities of color. The panel asked Bryk if the Governor would stop the Williams’ new fracked-gas pipeline, and was met with disappointment after punting the decision to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC). Just yesterday, a report debunked false arguments for the risky proposed Williams fracked gas pipeline.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer highlighted the City’s transformative commitment to divest its pension funds from fossil fuels and reinvest in renewables, while the crowd chanted for Comptroller DiNapoli, who turned down the request to attend, to divest. Stringer also restated his proud opposition to the Williams pipeline and committed to personally call the Governor to act to stop it.
Council Speaker Johnson was similarly praised for championing the Council’s transformative legislation, Intro 1253, which when enacted will create thousands of good jobs to tackle climate pollution from large, #DirtyBuildings, the top source of the city’s pollution. The legislation is a near-first worldwide, and the city’s expected action to enact it will provide a global model. Johnson also reiterated his opposition to the Williams pipeline and his commitment to call on Cuomo to stop it.
As the vision of a Green New Deal garners unprecedented popularity, New Yorkers are pushing politicians to make the state and city real models of climate action for the rest of the nation and world. Meanwhile, the Trump administration props up oil and gas corporations, obliterates hard-won climate protections, and attempts to dictate New York’s power to make decisions about pipelines.
Now, organizers are ramping up toward an April 18 march over the Brooklyn Bridge to stop the Williams fracked gas pipeline, an Albany divestment hearing on April 30th, and action in the Albany legislative session. More #GreenNewDeal4NY Forums are planned for in cities across the state in the weeks to come.
Betámia Coronel, Lead Organizer with 350.org and lifelong New Yorker, said: “New Yorkers are already paying the costs of climate chaos through our lives and livelihoods while still recovering from Superstorm Sandy six years later. We are turning out at scale with the crisis because a #GreenNewDeal4NY cannot wait. There’s a dangerous contradiction when Governor Cuomo talks about climate action, yet allows fracked gas projects and pipelines to wreak havoc on our communities. Stopping the toxic and unnecessary Williams fracked gas pipeline is his first major test on a Green New Deal. We are immensely grateful to have leaders like Comptroller Stringer and Speaker Johnson leading the way on delivering real climate justice for all of us. Together, we will build a Fossil Free New York and transition to 100% renewables for all.”
Smitha Varghese, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), said: “Climate change isn’t coming… it’s already here. We need to act with a sense of urgency which is why we’ve invited elected officials to speak about the Green New Deal and answer questions from environmental activists. Engaging in a collective dialogue is the first step towards saving our planet.”
Matthew Miles Goodrich, New York State Director of Sunrise, said: “The momentum for the Green New Deal in New York has never been greater. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries should take note and back the resolution in Congress.”
Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director and Director of Policy Initiatives at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, said: “We are encouraged that the needs of low-income communities and communities of color are reflected in the aspirations of the Green New Deal resolution, but it fails to provide a specific timeline for ending our dependence on fossil fuels, which is the cause of climate change. If that can be addressed in the actual legislation, we would likely be very supportive. In fact, WE ACT has forged our very own Green New Deal in Harlem and El Barrio with our Solar Uptown Now campaign – which used local workers we trained to put 270 kilowatts of renewable energy on the roofs of affordable housing buildings, creating new jobs, lowering energy bills, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are also working with the New York City Mayor’s Office and City Council to pursue similar initiatives, such as building a solar farm on Rikers Island by training unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers – including some who were once inmates there – to do the work.”
Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region Director at Food & Water Watch, said: “There are no more excuses – New Yorkers are demanding real leadership on climate change from our elected officials now. That means moving off fossil fuels as fast as possible and stopping new fossil fuel projects like the Williams fracked gas pipeline. The question now is whether our elected leaders will side with New Yorkers or the fossil fuels industry.”
Denise Patel, Peoples Climate Movement New York, said: The Green New Deal is an opportunity for our elected officials to step up to climate leadership to match the bold, visionary call to action we hear ringing across the country in a way that will not only meet the challenges the climate crisis has brought to our doorstep, but completely reshape our city and our state. New York once again has the opportunity to truly lead on climate with equity and justice by getting the city and state to 100% renewable energy through the Climate & Community Protection Act, creating thousands of jobs by cleaning up New York City’s dirty buildings legislation, banning fossil fuel infrastructure like the Williams pipeline, and fixing our public transit system.”
Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, said: “The Green New Deal offers a vision, urgency and ambition that matches the climate crisis we face. It centers the moral values that are at the heart of our religious and spiritual traditions: love, justice, and compassion. It lifts up visionary policy solutions that will address the critical issues of our time. It moves us towards a flourishing future for all people. It protects Earth, our common home. That’s why we are celebrating the Green New Deal’s boldness. We face real danger, and an unparalleled response is required.”
Mark Dunlea, Chair of the Green Education and Legal Fund, said: “The Importance of the Green New Deal, which our organization has been promoting since 2010, is that is combines the need for a very rapid transition to clean renewable energy and a halt to fossil fuels with a commitment to FDR’s economic bill of rights so everyone benefits. We need every level of government- from city hall and town boards to the State Capitol and Congress – to develop detailed plans with clear, short term benchmarks on the many steps needed to prevent climate catastrophe. At the State level, this starts with divesting the state pension fund from fossil fuels along with enacting the OFF Act for 100% renewables by 2030.”
Todd Fernandez, Esquire, Steering Committee of 350NYC, Founder of Climate Action Mondays, said, “The climate crisis requires exponential leadership. Our pollution the next 10-20 years will determine the fate of life on Earth forever. It’s time to declare a Climate Emergency and act accordingly.”
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
Contact: Lindsay Meiman, [email protected], +1 (347) 460-9082
The forum was co-organized by a wide list of organizations, including: 350.org, 350 Brooklyn, 350NYC, Bronx Climate Justice North, Code Pink NY, Divest Invest, DSA – Climate Justice, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Green Education and Legal Fund, GreenFaith, Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World, New York Communities for Change (NYCC), New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NYU Divest, the People’s Climate Movement – NY, Riders Alliance, Sane Energy Project, Sunrise NYC, United for Action, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and the Working Families Party.
For more on the fight to Stop Williams, explore this media pack.
To view this release online, visit: https://350.org/press-release/greennewdeal4ny-forum