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Cuomo, joined by Gore, says NY will lead in fighting climate change

Staff Reports Posted 9 October 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo courtesy of Gov. Cuomo’s office – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Vice President Al Gore met at Columbia University on Thursday to announce several New York State actions on climate change.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, joined by Vice President Gore, on Thursday announced four major actions to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across New York State.

These nation-leading environmental and clean energy initiatives will help New York homes, businesses and universities invest in clean energy, drive economic growth across the state, and protect the environment.

“Climate change is an issue of society’s sustainability – and to deny that climate change is real is to deny reason,” Cuomo said. “Today, New York is stepping up. We are demonstrating the leadership and focus that this issue demands. We are joining together and committing ourselves to tackling climate change and showing the nation what is possible. Now it is up to world leaders to follow suit.”

Former Vice President Al Gore, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker, a dedicated environmentalist and Nobel Prize winner, for decades has been a leading advocate in efforts to combat climate change and joined Governor Cuomo to announce these new actions.

“The leadership shown by Governor Cuomo and New York State to make bold emissions reductions commitments is vital to solving the climate crisis,” said Former Vice President Al Gore. “On the eve of the Paris climate negotiations, New York’s efforts to reduce emissions and join with others like California, Quebec, and Ontario to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy send a strong signal to world leaders: local, regional, and state governments are taking climate action now.”

Under 2 MOU

Governor Cuomo signed the Under 2 MOU (Memorandum of Understanding), an agreement between states, provinces and cities worldwide to affirm their commitment to help keep the earth’s average temperature from increasing 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, as measured against pre-industrial levels.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined that global warming must be kept below 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 to avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, such as significant sea level rise that would inundate nations and coastlines around the world, create prolonged pervasive and extreme weather, cause mega-droughts, and lead to food scarcity.

New York has already committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions envisioned by the Under 2 MOU. Earlier this year, as part of the 2015 State Energy Plan, New York set the most aggressive target in the nation to reduce emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 (80 by 50).

To achieve these reductions, New York has launched one of the most comprehensive and transformative clean energy agendas in the nation through Reforming the Energy Vision.

As world leaders gather in Paris this December for the United Nations climate negotiations, New York is proving that reducing emissions can be done and should be done. World leaders must follow suit and commit to the same emissions reductions, Cuomo said.

North American Carbon Market

New York and the other northeast regional greenhouse gas cap and trade states have demonstrated that carbon markets are a powerful tool for reducing the pollution that is contributing to climate change. Therefore, in order to maximize impact of proven strategies, New York State will engage its partners in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and California, Quebec and Ontario to explore the possibility of linking the successful carbon markets.

Connecting these markets would be more cost-effective and stable, thereby supporting clean energy and driving international carbon emission reductions. New York State will also engage other states and provinces to build a broader carbon market and further drive an international discussion that encourages government action on carbon emissions.

Solar Power for 150,000 Homes and Businesses by 2020

In 2013 Governor Cuomo dedicated $1 billion to the New York solar industry through the NY SUN Initiative. Since then, the State has committed $270 million and supported the deployment of solar across 30,000 homes and businesses.

Hoag Library used a state grant to pay for most of the new solar panels on the roof of the library in Albion.

Building on this progress, the governor announced a commitment to bring solar to 150,000 more homes and businesses by 2020. For the first time ever, commercial projects will be able to share the power they generate on their properties with surrounding community members through the Governor’s Shared Renewables program.

Renewable Energy at Every SUNY Campus by 2020

The Governor also announced will State University of New York (SUNY), the nation’s largest statewide public university system, will install renewable energy, including solar and other technologies, at each of its 64 campuses by 2020. This commitment builds on SUNY’s existing goals of improving its energy efficiency performance by 20 percent and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020.

The Governor challenged private colleges and universities to join SUNY in their commitment. To support public and private schools investing in solar, the New York Power Authority will provide new tools and resources to evaluate, manage, and contract solar lease agreements with private sector partners.

In addition, New York State will invest in clean, renewable power across all of its public buildings and facilities, expanding upon its ambitious energy efficiency objectives.

“New York is once again serving as a national role model, turning bold ideas into action as Governor Cuomo takes the lead on efforts to address climate change,” said Richard Kauffman, chairman of Energy & Finance for New York State. “Under these commitments made today and as part of the Governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision plan, New York is on a firm path to reach our clean energy and environment goals by building a clean, resilient and affordable energy system.”

Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is designed to build a cleaner, more affordable and resilient energy system for all New Yorkers through a combination of new energy policies, state-wide initiatives and regulatory reforms.