Pass The Climate and Community Investment Act

Pass+The+Climate+and+Community+Investment+Act

Catherine Auerbach

New York State has been one of the nation’s leaders in passing ambitious policy to combat climate change. In 2019, the state passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). One of the most ambitious climate laws in the world, the CLCPA requires New York to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. It also calls for a decrease in emissions of at least 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. By creating explicit guidelines around how we must adapt our society, this law creates a clear legal incentive for real, efficient change. 

In the fight for environmental justice, the CLCPA cannot stand alone. Environmental justice is deeply embedded in aspects of racial and socioeconomic justice, and paying reparations to these communities who have been (and will be) disproportionately impacted by climate change is crucial in our fight against it. Introduced to the New York State Senate on March 22nd, the Climate and Community Investment Act (CCIA) will provide funding to give back to these threatened groups and help prepare them for the climate crisis ahead. 

By taxing corporate polluters, the CCIA would raise $15 billion dollars per year to invest in a just transition to a greener economy. This tax would start at $55 per ton of greenhouse gas emissions and increase year after year. This would provide incentive for corporate polluters to look for more renewable energy alternatives, as well as generate funds to invest directly into frontline communities. 

Funds would be directed in three different directions. One third of total funds would be allocated to local programs such as community solar panels, efficient energy for homes and schools, and initiatives to prepare working class neighborhoods for the future effects of climate change. These funds would also be directed to supporting current employees of the fossil fuel industry as we transfer to a more sustainable economy. 

Another portion of funds would support larger-scale projects to transition New York to a 100% renewable economy. These projects would include state-wide solar energy infrastructure and investments in electrical grid stability, vehicle electrification, and public transit. Investments in greener transportation and energy would increase New Yorkers’ ability to commute sustainably. 

The final portion of funds would  provide direct assistance to low and moderate income families. Lower-income families will be put under the most financial strain as climate change worsens and the economy adapts. Thus, current investments are crucial. This direct assistance would come in the form of transit vouchers, direct cash benefits, and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program benefits. The CCIA would also ensure that the lowest-earning 60% of New Yorkers would not be impacted by energy companies’ attempts to raise their prices.

The CCIA has a triple focus of taking down corporate polluters, investing in a greener economy, and giving back to communities most impacted by environmental racism. That’s why in its fight against systemic racism, no collected funds would be used for police, prisons, or related infrastructure that oppresses communities of color. 

Spreading the word about the Climate and Community Investment Act is more important than ever now that it’s been introduced in the legislative session. We have until June 10th, 2021 to pass this bill and it’s crucial we get all the support we can. 

Click this link to email your representatives to support the Climate and Community Investment Act. You can also support this bill by donating to NY Renews, the organization leading the fight to pass the CCIA. Learn more about this bill and how to get involved at www.nyrenews.com

It’s our responsibility to enact efficient and effective climate legislation before it’s too late. Taking action can be as easy as clicking a link and emailing your representatives, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Research other ways you can get involved in environmental action in your community, whether that be attending virtual rallies (which NY Renews also hosts!) or participating in lobbying meetings with your representatives. 

As Gen Z, we will be inheriting the world that past generations have destroyed and handing it off to the generations of the future. We need to use the little time we have left to act wisely. Let’s pass the CCIA.