Howie Hawkins and Gloria Mattera

Howie Hawkins is a retired Teamster in Syracuse who has been active in movements for civil rights, peace, labor, and the environment since the late 1960s.

Gloria Mattera is a public hospital worker in New York City who has been active in the universal public health care, anti-war, and environmental movements.

The Green Party today urged the NYS legislature to return to Albany in January ready to enact a far more ambitious climate plan than is being prepared by the Hochul-dominated Climate Action Council, staffed by many holdovers from the Cuomo administration.

The Greens said that the draft plan, which the Governor has refused to share with the public, has far too many examples of corporate greenwashing. A draft plan was reviewed by the Council members at the State Capitol complex on Monday, with the vote to adopt it set for Dec. 19.

“The plan being proposed by the Climate Action Council does an adequate job of laying out many of the challenges facing NY in enacting a rapid transition to 100% clean renewable energy. We might have applauded much of it – 15 years ago. It is up to the legislature to now make the critical policy decisions and investments. The UN keeps shouting that we can no longer afford incremental changes. They must put the needs of future generations ahead of the donations of the 1%,” remarked Gloria Mattera, State Party co-chair.

The Party says that the state must commit to raising at least $15 billion a year to immediately begin financing the transition to clean renewable energy, such as subsidizing the costs to enable residents to decarbonize their buildings. The Greens expressed alarm over the plan's support for a so-called “Cap and Invest” which seems very similar to the cap-and-trade program opposed by environmental justice groups and Pope Francis.

“This plan continues Cuomo’s and the Democrat’s mindset of seeking ways to realign the markets to support green capitalism, along with the usual treasure trove for corporate welfare like carbon capture and blue hydrogen. Cap and invest is just a rebranding of cap and trade, which still allows big carbon polluters to keep on polluting by buying emissions permits, polluters who are disproportionately in disadvantaged communities. We need the ecosocialist Green New Deal that the Green Party began campaigning for in 2010 that ensures a Just Transition and living wage jobs, a decent life for all. We need energy democracy through a public energy system. We need system change to stop climate change,” added Howie Hawkins, the Green Party’s most recent candidate for Governor. 

The Greens have long advocated for a robust state carbon tax, with the proceeds being divided among a rebate targeted to low-and-middle income people and investment in renewable energy, mass transit, and EJ (environmental justice) initiatives. The Greens said that any carbon price should at least reflect the $125 a ton that the NYS DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) has established as the social cost of carbon, rather than the anemic $12 a ton charged under the state’s existing regional cap-and-trade program (RGGI).

The Council is also seeking a one-year delay in its prior 2024 target to ban gas in new buildings.

“Three and a half years after the state passed a moderate climate law, they are just finishing up a draft plan, which will now go through years of regulatory hearings and likely legal challenges before being implemented. Virtually no new renewable energy has been added since the CLCPA was enacted, and globally in2022 we will witness the highest greenhouse gas emissions despite still recovering from the COVID economic burnout. When the UN Secretary-General warns that the planet is about to burn due to the slow pace of government action, he means New York State,” said Mark Dunlea, co-chair of the EcoAction Committee of the Green Party of the United States.

“We need New York to recognize that we are in an all-hands-on-deck climate emergency, not business as usual focused on placating campaign donors and the fossil fuel industry” added Dunlea.

The CLCPA's goals to reduce emissions remain even weaker than those set by President Biden, who has called for a 50 to 52% reduction by 2030. 

“Let’s keep it simple. No new fossil fuels and a plan for a rapid phaseout of existing fossil fuel uses. Yes to NYPA building renewable energy but focused on democratic local control of it. And tremendous expansion of municipal public power, which already delivers cheap reliable power to more than fifty local communities. We need to stop the $6 trillion global taxpayer subsidy to fossil fuel companies and instead make the polluters pay, both to finance the transition to renewable energy as well as to lower energy costs for the average New Yorker,” added Peter LaVenia, a Green Party state co-chair.

The Greens oppose various false climate solutions which have varying levels of support from state Democrats, including nuclear, blue hydrogen, “renewable” natural gas, garbage incineration, and various carbon capture technologies. They support much faster timelines (e.g., 2030) to get to zero emissions.

Bold action is required now to avert a climate catastrophe. Incremental change that allows the big polluters to continue to pollute the air we breathe, water we drink and soil where food is grown is not the solution - it is empowerment of them to continue their destruction of our environment. 

(1) comment

Amber Jones

No natural gas means no electricity when the solar panels and windmills aren't generating it. That could make for some awfully cold winters once everyone's switched over to all electric heat.

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