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Another Voice: New York must make leap to cleaner energy

By Mark Dunlea

The Trump administration on Black Friday released a climate report “that warns impacts ... will include more frequent and more devastating wildfires in California, more crop failures ... and a more rapidly crumbling infrastructure.”

The U.S. analysis follows even more dire warnings from the United Nations that the world has 12 years to take unprecedented worldwide action to avoid potential civilization collapse. Without drastic action, floods, sea level rise, wildfires, heat waves and droughts will make parts of the planet uninhabitable.

Climate refugees will likely be in the hundreds of millions. Support systems involving energy, food and water will break down, leading to wars over such resources.

President Trump unfortunately is a climate denier, pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate treaty. However, all the Democratic Congress members from New York except one are co-sponsors of the Off Act, to require our electricity and transportation systems to go to 100 percent clean energy by 2035, along with a commitment to “a just transition” and environmental justice.

The Green Party for the last eight years has campaigned for a Green New Deal to transform our energy systems while providing millions of new living wage jobs and eliminating the air pollution that kills millions worldwide. The Green New Deal made national headlines recently when hundreds of climate activists held a sit-in in Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office.

Draft legislation by incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls for a 10-year transition to 100 percent clean power, with an accompanying commitment to environmental and economic justice.

We also need Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state and local lawmakers to step up their commitments to climate action.

Sixteen years after Gov. George Pataki set goals for a major expansion of renewable energy, New York only gets 4 percent of its electricity from solar and wind.

New York’s Off Fossil Fuels Act is the strongest climate change agenda in the country. It would halt new fossil fuel infrastructure and transition to 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2030, and require new buildings to be net zero carbon emissions, as California does.

The act requires both the state and local governments to adopt enforceable climate action plans with clear timelines and benchmarks.

The state also needs to take the simple but symbolic step of divesting its state pension fund from billions in fossil fuel investments, as New York City recently agreed to do. We must demand that our elected officials take action to ensure a future for our children and grandchildren.

Mark Dunlea is chairman of the Green Education and Legal Fund, and the recent Green Party candidate for state comptroller.

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