ALBANY — The state Department of Environmental Conservation this week impaneled an additional working group and six advisory panels under the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, also called the Climate Act.
Passed by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last summer, the Climate Act mandated the creation of a Climate Action Council, which first met in March, to develop a Scoping Plan for meeting the Climate Act’s required emissions reductions targets over the next three decades. The work of the CAC, with recommendations from working groups and advisory panels, is expected to culminate in a finalized Scoping Plan by the end of 2021, outlining steps to meet a 40 percent reduction of 1990 emission levels by 2030, and an 85 percent reduction by 2050.
Under the Climate Act’s legal framework, the setting and implementation of those emissions reduction targets is accomplished through a new section of state Environmental Conservation Law. DEC’s full proposal to set those reduction targets, limiting emissions to 60 percent by 2030 and 15 percent by 2050, is scheduled to receive two public hearings in October.
“The only way to truly combat climate change and achieve New York’s game-changing goals is to engage with a broad range of stakeholders across the state,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said this week. “The members of the Just Transition Working Group and advisory panels represent the diversity of our great state, with leaders from communities of color, labor, industry, government, agriculture, environment, housing and academia.”
The 22-member CAC met for the second time Monday, and council members approved a 17-member Just Transition Working Group and dozens of appointments across six advisory panels: agriculture and forestry; energy efficiency and housing; energy-intensive and trade-exposed industries; land use and local government; power generation; and transportation.
Members represent state agencies, nonprofits, conservation organizations, academic institutions, businesses, labor unions and environmental advocacy groups.
From the north country, two SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry faculty members serve on advisory panels — professor of forest policy and law Robert W. Malmsheimer on the agriculture and forestry panel, and associate professor of sustainable resources management Tristan R. Brown on the energy-intensive and trade-exposed industries panel.
Elizabeth M. Jacobs, acting executive director of the Akwesasne Housing Authority, serves on the energy efficiency and housing panel, and Katie H. Malinowski, executive director of the Tug Hill Commission, serves on the land use and local government panel.
Intended to oversee an equitable transition of the state’s workforce, the Just Transition Working Group is tasked with developing jobs reports, identifying workforce training needs and evaluating former power plant sites for future renewable energy use. The Climate Justice Working Group, which first met earlier this month, is designed to represent the needs of low-income areas, communities of color, coastal and agricultural regions and others disproportionately impacted by climate change.
“All New Yorkers must help guide a just transition to a cleaner energy future,” Mr. Seggos said. “We’ve already seen the devastating effects of climate change. We are committed to putting thousands of people back to work in clean jobs and ensuring that all of our communities, particularly those most at risk from climate change, stand to benefit from New York’s transition to a greener future.”