By the Bronxville Green Committee
June 8, 2022: In 2019, New York State became a leader in addressing climate change when it passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the CLCPA. This state law set ambitious goals for drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with the burning of fossil fuels.
The law established two working groups:
*The Climate Action Council (CAC), made up of many different advisory groups in various sectors (buildings, transportation, electricity, waste, etc.), was charged with the task of creating a document that would serve as a framework for how the State would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase the use of renewable energy, and ensure climate justice. On January 1, the CAC released its document, called the Draft Scoping Plan. You can find an excellent summary HERE as well as the complete document.
*The Climate Justice Working Group (CJWG) was formed to address a unique requirement of the CLCPA—that it begin to eliminate longstanding climate injustice by requiring that 35% of all resources allocated to meet the law’s goals must be spent in “disadvantaged communities,” those that had suffered disproportionally from environmental harms, often because polluting industries and facilities were located in those neighborhoods. The CJWG was tasked with developing criteria for identifying those disadvantaged communities. It has released its report, which you can read about HERE.
More than 300 pages long, the Climate Action Council’s Draft Scoping Plan is complex, formidable, and a huge achievement. Full of detailed analysis and proposals, it does not make for light reading, yet it’s possible to review specific sections on subjects that most interest you. Already, the Plan has prompted proposed legislation, policies, and recommendations in Albany, many of which will impact the lives of New Yorkers in the months and years to come. It’s important to understand the biggest takeaways.
*The CLCPA requires that New York State reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050 with the final 15% allowed to be offset by natural processes for certain specified industries. The result would be net zero emissions.
*A cost-benefit analysis confirms that the benefits of taking action now to address climate change far outweigh the far higher costs of doing nothing (or not enough). Factoring in the greater energy efficiencies and savings of clean, green technologies for housing and transportation, and improvements to public health that result from less air and water pollution, the Plan indicates we can save $90-120 billion by pursuing a rigorous path of eliminating the burning of fossil fuels.
*In New York State greenhouse gas emissions come from: buildings 32%, transportation 28%, electricity 13%, industry 9%, waste 12%, and agriculture 6%.
*The Draft Scoping Plan outlines three different paths to consider in addressing climate change, using slightly different technologies in each scenario, with comparisons of costs and outcomes.
*New York State has 6 million buildings, all of which need to be electrified by 2050. Electrifying buildings allows them to stop using fossil fuels such as natural gas and fuel oil; electricity can be generated via clean, renewable methods. Since much of the state’s housing stock is old, electrifying its buildings requires first renovating them to high efficiency standards (by fixing leaky roofs and adding insulation, for example) and then installing electric heat pumps that provide heating and cooling. Converting so many buildings will be a herculean task!
*New York State has 9 million registered cars, only 45,000 of which are electric. It’s widely accepted among experts that “we can’t drive our way out of the climate crisis,” meaning that we must rethink how we get around, and include a wider use of mass transit, biking, walking, and electric cars/scooters/bikes in our daily lives. Bronxville’s walkability and access to mass transit are bound to become even more vital assets.
*Despite anticipated efficiencies in green technologies, demand for electricity is expected to rise 65-80% by 2050. To keep it renewable, we must expand our capacity for wind and solar by leaps and bounds. The CLCPA requires that 70% of our electricity come from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2040; currently, 27% comes from renewable sources. A vast amount of energy storage via batteries will also be vital. Bronxville’s commercial and residential rooftops offer prime opportunities for solar!
*New York State is blessed with 18.6 million acres of forest, a natural resource worth preserving now more than ever. Natural landscapes can sequester large amounts of carbon in the form of plants, helping to offset greenhouse gas emissions, but they can also release greenhouse gases in the form of decaying organic matter.
Sustainable Westchester, a nonprofit organization that works with municipal governments throughout Westchester to promote the transition to clean energy and environmental justice, recently ran a webinar in which various people summarized different sections of the Draft Scoping Plan. View a recording of the webinar HERE. Follow the Q&A HERE.
The public comment period for the Draft Scoping Plan has been extended until July 1st. Please consider posting public comments on both the Draft Scoping Plan and the Climate Justice Working Group’s criteria for a disadvantaged community. You can do so HERE. You don’t need to be an expert or thoroughly informed about the details to express your support, concerns, suggestions, and questions. You can also find best practice for public comments HERE. Make your voice heard about documents that show us a path forward on climate change and help us envision a world transformed.
The Bronxville Green Committee is a volunteer organization that is part of the Village of Bronxville. We work to propose and implement environmentally sustainable programs in our community. Visit our website to learn more and join our efforts.
Photo courtesy Bronxville Green Committee
The Bronxville Green Committee is a volunteer organization under Village government. We work with the Trustees and Village staff on programs that promote clean energy initiatives and sustainable ways of living. Our programs include The Bronxville Giving Garden, a community garden whose produce is donated to local groups; Take Back Day, when we collect items to be recycled; and Pollinator Pathways, which encourages adding native plants to our gardens. We believe everyone can make a difference by adopting simple, sustainable practices in daily life so we can work together to protect what we love -- our families, our homes and our town.