In The News
Gotham Gazette–Carbon Free Is How We Build Back From COVID-19
There have been many hard-learned lessons from COVID-19, but by far the most tragic – paid for with the lives of tens of thousands of people – is that when it comes to dealing with a public health crisis, preparation and proactive planning is the only approach that can keep our worst nightmares from becoming a reality. While New York is still far from reaching the light at the end of the tunnel, many inside and outside of government have rightly begun to envision what a restart to our economy should look like.
It is in this conversation that we have a unique opportunity to get the restart right by appropriately investing in a cleaner, greener, and more energy-resilient economy that will have the dual benefit of driving much-needed job and economic growth statewide while also helping fortify our defense against the next impending crisis for which there can be no vaccine – that of climate change and its impacts. By ensuring that governments like New York State make our long-term climate change goals a priority as part of the economy-wide restart, we can meet our immediate economic and public health concerns, as well as better position our renewable and clean energy industry to reach our broader climate change goals.
While the public health concerns and dangers of coronavirus are very serious and science should be the determining guide for any economic recovery plans, we shouldn’t lose sight of the climate crisis and how these goals are inextricably linked. New York residents are clearly being harmed by a changing climate caused by carbon emissions, with unequal impacts on the state’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. By starting anew with a clean energy economy, we can expect to greatly reduce the risk of the increasingly serious effects of climate change.
The evidence of New York’s changing climate are readily apparent across every region of the state: a 74% increase in extreme precipitation since the 1950s; an increase in extreme storms like superstorm Sandy, which cost $40 billion in reconstruction and tourism losses; extreme drought in the Finger Lakes; flooding along Lake Ontario’s shoreline; and overwintering pests destroying our forests and crops. Sea level rise is also impairing coastal communities and infrastructure such as airports and sewage treatment plants. Flooding disrupts communities, agriculture, and water quality. New York State’s temperature has increased 2.6 degrees Fahrenheit since 1897. Action is clearly warranted.