Governor Cuomo Announces $3.5 Million Now Available to Support Local Climate Action
New York (STL.News) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new initiative designed to accelerate action on climate change by making $3.5 million available for contractors to provide technical assistance to municipalities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. Selected contractors, called Climate Leadership Coordinators, will support climate action at the local level through outreach, education, planning, capacity-building, and assistance with project implementation.
“This initiative demonstrates New York’s commitment to supporting local efforts to meet the significant environmental challenges posed by climate change,” said Governor Cuomo. “Local governments are critical partners in meeting the State’s ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reductions required by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. New York State continues to support the meaningful steps municipalities are taking to adapt to climate change while improving quality of life for local residents.”
“Creating a cleaner, greener future starts at the local level,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “That’s why as part of our nation-leading climate agenda we are working with local officials to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, drive down energy costs and build resiliency against the threat of climate change.”
The State Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking proposals for Climate Leadership Coordinators who will serve as strategic planning agents to guide local governments in the development of successful local climate action programs. Using the State’s Climate Smart Communities Certification program—which recognizes municipalities for taking climate action by offering technical assistance, grants, and rebates for electric vehicles—as a roadmap, the coordinators will provide technical support to communities to help reduce harmful emissions, build resilience to climate change, and thrive in the new resilient green economy.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Local governments lead by example, taking action to reduce their operational emissions while also encouraging the reduction of community-wide greenhouse gases through building code and land-use decisions, transportation planning, adoption of smart-growth policies, and facilitating local climate change adaptation and resilience. DEC is proud to support local government leaders as they develop proactive programs and management practices to combat climate change.”
NYSERDA President & CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “Robust and resilient long-term solutions are the backbone of lowering carbon emissions and advancing clean energy in our fight against climate change. This program provides municipal leaders with new resources and technical assistance that complement the Clean Energy Communities program to foster smart planning, build healthier communities and create a stronger future for residents and businesses alike.”
The Climate Leadership Coordinators will work alongside the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority funded Clean Energy Community Coordinators who help local leaders navigate through the Clean Energy Communities program to implement impact actions to save energy, cut costs, and earn designation.
The new program is funded by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund. DEC’s request for proposals will be released on May 24, 2021. Eligible parties interested in requesting a copy of the RFP upon its release can email their request to the DEC Office of Climate Change at [email protected]
Climate Smart Communities Program
The Climate Leadership Coordinators funding is part of New York State’s multi-faceted Climate Smart Communities program, which is jointly sponsored by seven state agencies: DEC, NYSERDA, New York Power Authority, Department of State, Department of Health, Department of Transportation, and Department of Public Service.
Started in 2009 by DEC, the program provides guidance to local governments to take locally driven climate action. The first step is to pass a formal pledge to mitigate and adapt to climate change. To date, 332 local governments have adopted the Climate Smart Communities pledge, representing more than 9.3 million New Yorkers. The Climate Smart Communities certification program was launched in 2014 to document and celebrate the accomplishments of leading communities that go above and beyond the pledge. There are now 65 certified Climate Smart Communities in New York State, 58 at the bronze level and seven at the silver level.
In addition to the recently announced $2.8 million now available to help municipalities add zero-emission vehicles to their fleets and to install ZEV infrastructure for public use, there is $11 million available this year under the DEC Climate Smart Communities Grant program in support of local climate mitigation and adaptation projects. For more information about these grants, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/109181.html.
New York State’s Nation-Leading Climate Plan
Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieving its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York’s unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including over $4 billion invested in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the State, supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2019, a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, and 1,800 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities and advancing progress towards the State’s 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.