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State comptroller’s Buffalo visit after Paris climate summit encourages push for environmental legislation

Fresh from attending the Paris Climate Change Conference, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli came to Buffalo on Wednesday evening to help launch the NY Renews campaign, which will press to get climate-related measures passed during the next session of the State Legislature in Albany.

“In Paris,” he said at a kickoff event in the Tralf Music Hall called Party for the Climate, “I think everyone walked away with a similar feeling, that here we are with a global consensus emerging, all coming together, and we could see that we could no longer fail to act. It may not have been perfect. It didn’t do everything. But Paris was a major breakthrough.”

DiNapoli, a former assemblyman from Nassau County, noted that as chairman of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, “one big thing I learned was we’re really talking about public health. In too many cases, it’s children who have suffered the most.”

He told the crowd of more than 100 activists and leaders from a variety of local church, environmental, labor and community organizations about the creation of a $2 billion Low Emissions Index for the state’s pension fund that will reduce or eliminate investments in polluting companies and encourage others to reduce their carbon footprints.

An additional $1.5 billion in promote green investments, he said, will bring the fund’s total environmentally friendly commitment to $5 billion. Echoing an earlier speaker, Jim Anderson of Citizen Action, he added, “We all have skin in the game. We all need to contribute.”

The NY Renews campaign will contribute by pushing for laws that will enforce the state’s climate goals, create jobs in clean energy and set up a fair energy policy that includes people at all economic levels.

Leading the local kickoff were Franchelle Hart of Open Buffalo and Clarke Gocker of PUSH Buffalo. The program included half-dozen speakers, among them Deborah Hayes of the Communication Workers of America, Agnes Williams of Indigenous Women’s Initiatives and Lynda Schneekloth of the Sierra Club.