Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright Speaks
In a historic legislative session for New York State, we passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protections Act (CLCPA), which I was proud to cosponsor. Ever since the 2016 presidential election, President Trump has unleashed an all-out assault on climate protections. His administration has worked hard to abolish Obama-era climate policies, such as the Paris Climate Accord and many more. Overall, the Trump administration eliminated 70 nation-wide environmental rules and laws created during the Obama administration. At a time when American leadership is needed on this issue, we are continuing to send the wrong message to the rest of the world.
However, there is hope. While the Federal government is shredding carbon regulations and other environmental protections, it is up to State Legislatures across the country to enact protections that curb the rate of climate change. During the last legislative session, New York passed one of the strongest climate protections in the country. In the CLCPA, we are joining seven other states in passing substantive climate policies in the past year. The CLCPA targets net-zero Carbon emissions by 2050, and require New York’s greenhouse gas emissions are lowered by 60%, of the 1990 emissions, by 2030. The CLCPA also targets 70% renewable energy by 2030, and 100% by 2040. By making electricity greener and switching electricity grids to cleaner energy sources, meaning less coal and more renewables, we are making every device contribute less to the overall carbon emissions. These measures also include heavy investments in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which will transition New York’s energy sources into the future, and establish one of the first net-zero economies in the U.S.
The legislation will also provide necessary funds to the communities most impacted by the results of climate change, which are usually low-income and minority neighborhoods. The CLCPA requires 40% of all state climate and clean energy spending will go to disadvantaged communities. We have also disproven the widespread and false narrative that any climate change proposal hurts our economy and takes away jobs. Through transitioning to net-zero carbon emission, 150,000 jobs will be added in New York State.
I have always believed that there is no greater responsibility for elected representatives than to protect our environment for generations to come. I am proud that I have always supported the issue of climate, represented by my perfect rating by the League of Conservation Voters. Our planet is in peril, and I am frustrated by the inaction and indifference so many have toward this issue. However, I am also encouraged by the activism, especially from our youth, that have planned protests, scheduled walk-outs, and sent clear messages that protecting our climate is of utmost importance. We must never forget that there are no second chances when it comes to our planet. We must sustain the sense of urgency and continue to send the message to our leaders in Washington that nationwide climate reform, such as the measures instituted in New York, must be enacted. #