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Another Voice: State needs to step up fight against climate change

By Harper Bishop

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s recent State of the State address in Buffalo focused on the continued investment in the city and region through the second phase of the Buffalo Billion economic development program.

The $500 million expansion will be allocated to assist with neighborhood revitalization.
Although admirable, it was disappointing that the governor failed to connect his financial commitment to the very real effects of climate change. Not uttering the words even once.

That’s scary considering that the United States is about to become one of the few countries in the world led by someone who denies climate change. That means responsibility for protecting our communities from its ravages will fall squarely on our state and local officials.

Cuomo has made New York a leader in the fight against climate change, through New York’s Clean Energy Standard, which will require that 50 percent of New York’s electricity come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030. And yet, in this moment, it’s not enough. Frontline communities, and all New Yorkers, need a more robust climate platform and legislative agenda from the Cuomo administration in the era of Donald Trump.

That’s why Open Buffalo has joined NY Renews; a statewide, cross-sector coalition comprised of social and environmental justice advocates, organized labor, artists, researchers, faith leaders and working-class people.

Our common purpose is to codify what our communities really need through the New York State Climate and Community Protection Action, the nation’s strongest and most comprehensive climate bill to date, which ambitiously calls for good jobs and climate justice through operating off 100 percent renewable energy in our lifetime.

We as a community appreciate Cuomo’s concerted effort to revitalize the region, but to be successful over the long term, we need the governor to commit to carrying our collective agenda forward to secure a sustainable future for us all.

That means cutting air pollution, investing in disinvested communities and providing support to local organizations that have been leading the charge against climate change by training employees, making homes more energy efficient and making the air cleaner.

We’re hopeful the governor shares our vision. We call on him to include the Climate and Community Protection Act in this year’s state budget – to make sure that economic and environmental justice go hand in hand in a New Buffalo.

We’re poised, along with our coalition members, to stand with him to make it a reality!

Harper Bishop is the economic and climate justice coordinator for Open Buffalo.

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