Monday, November 13, 2017

Walk the Talk Convergence Kick Off Week of Actions. After Paris states have to lead! #CuomoWalktheTalk demand activists #OffFossilFuels




The environmental movement has taken countless shapes in New York, involving gardens and cycling, battles to clean the Hudson and brown fields, etc.  Over time, that battle extended into contests over the approval of hydraulic fracking, extracting natural gases from the earth.  We got a state-wide ban on the process because the people screamed, pestered, dropped banners, lobbied, got arrested, made movies, and collected data confirming that the practice is dangerous.  It pollutes water.  But the governor has kept supporting the infrastructure for natural gases, building more and more, seemingly talking out of both sides of his mouth.


New York renewable energy advocacy groups kicked off a state-wide week of action named #CuomoWalktheTalk -- #OffFossilFuels campaign! on November 13, 2017; outside Governor Andrew Cuomo's offices in Manhattan. In the next six months, November - April, local groups will organize synchronized actions with parallel messaging at the front-lines of their own energy battles throughout New York State as we move closer to a convergence Albany in April of 2018. (Photo by Erik McGregor) — with Benjamin Heim Shepard, Edie Kantrowitz, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Deirdre Aherne and Eric Fwwatch."







In the months since the President committed to pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Accord, more and more people have looked to thestates to lead.  The US is unique among industrialized nations for walking away. Even Syria recently signed on, leaving the US isolated.

(Technically, the US can’t pull out till 2020 after our next election.).

But the states, including New York, have committed to keeping New York in the Paris accord, living up our obligations under the treaty.

June 1, 2017, Albany, NY

New York Governor Cuomo, California Governor Brown, and Washington Governor Inslee Announced the formation of United States Climate Alliance.

In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., and Washington State Governor Jay R. Inslee today announced the formation of the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition that will convene U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change.

“The White House’s reckless decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement has devastating repercussions not only for the United States, but for our planet. This administration is abdicating its leadership and taking a backseat to other countries in the global fight against climate change,” said Governor Cuomo. “New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We will not ignore the science and reality of climate change which is why I am also signing an Executive Order confirming New York’s leadership role in protecting our citizens, our environment, and our planet.”

The governor of New York is great at talking the talk on climate, but he has yet to commit to actually moving New York off fossil fuels toward renewables.



Today, a group of environmental advocates met at the Governor’s office to call for him to actually support local efforts, such as the supporting the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act, already passed by the Assembly in June.  The bill would address and mitigate the impacts of climate change in New York (A.8270-A, Englebright).

"Climate change is already having adverse impacts on communities across New York, many of which are already vulnerable," said Heastie. "This legislation will help make New York a leader in environmental policies and ensure that we focus on developing greener energy alternatives and sustainable practices."

"New Yorkers depend on us to act in order to help prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change," said Englebright. "As the federal government threatens to jeopardize the progress we have made, New York must do everything within our power to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and help slow the rate of climate change to ensure the best possible outcome for our state's public health, environment and economic well-being."

The bill would establish the New York State Climate Action Council consisting of 25 members including state agencies and individuals with expertise in environmental issues, environmental justice, labor, and regulated industries.

Under the legislation, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would be required to establish:

  • greenhouse gas reporting requirements;
  • statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits;
  • a scoping plan, developed in consultation with the NYS Climate Action Council, the Environmental Justice Advisory Group, the Climate Justice Working Group and other stakeholders, outlining DEC's recommendations for attaining the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits;
  • regulations to achieve statewide greenhouse gas emissions reductions;
  • a report, not less than every four years, including recommendations regarding the implementation of greenhouse gas reduction measures; and
  • a report on barriers to and opportunities for community ownership of services and commodities in disadvantaged communities, including distributed renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, weathering investments, and zero emission and low-emission transportation options.

The act would also establish a Climate Justice Working Group consisting of representatives from environmental justice communities, DEC, and the Departments of Health and Labor to identify disadvantaged communities for the purposes of co-pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions reductions and the allocation of certain investments.

State agencies would also be required to assess and implement strategies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and when issuing permits, licenses or other administrative approvals and decisions to consider their impact on attaining the statewide greenhouse gas emission limits.

Under the bill, 50 percent of the electric generation secured by load serving entities regulated by the Public Service Commission, the Power Authority of the State of New York, and the Long Island Power Authority would be required to be produced by renewable energy systems by 2030. The bill also defines renewable energy systems.

But governor has not committed to supporting the bill.

The governor talks a great game.  Advocates ask him to walk the walk.

Standing in front of the governor’s office, advocates pulled out shoes representing those communities left behind and depending upon the governor’s inaction.



“No Gas Pipelines,” the crowd sang, so the tune of the old Neil Diamond song “Sweet Caroline.”  “Da, da, da.  We don’t need you any more!”



They followed with the chant: “We know that you can talk the talk, now you need to talk the talk.”

In the next six months, November - April, local groups will organize synchronized actions with parallel messaging at the front-lines of their own energy battles throughout New York State as we move closer to a convergence Albany in April of 2018.



When I got home, I received the following email from Varshini Prakash:



Benjamin,

Just moments ago, I and dozens of young Americans with the US People’s Delegation just sang our rendition of “Proud to be an American” to interrupt the Trump administration’s pro-fossil fuel panel here at the UN Climate Talks.

Then, we led a mass-walkout from the panel and now are holding our own People’s Panel outside.


This panel, dubbed “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation,” preached reckless policies to increase our use of fossil fuels.

It’s a disgrace that, after pulling out of Paris and isolating the US from the world and as millions of Americans are reeling from climate disasters, Trump hosted a panel advocating for increased fossil fuel development -- the exact opposite of what we need.


We stood up during the Trump administration’s presentation because we needed to deliver a different message to the world; to say to the world that even if Trump tried to pull us backwards from the top, Americans are mobilizin































































The writing is on the wall.  We have to address Climate Change. Street activist and murals, connecting the dots between struggles.