New York state’s Climate Action Council has been tasked with developing a plan by the end of this year to meet the state’s aggressive climate goals.

In 2019, the Legislature passed and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Under that statute, the state’s goals include lowering greenhouse gas emissions to 40% of 1990 levels by 2030, and by 85% by 2050.

“It’s a big bold target and it’s what the crisis and the moment demands,” Eddie Bautista told Capital Tonight. Bautista is the executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, which assists low-income neighborhoods in their struggle for environmental justice. He also serves on the Climate Action Council’s Climate Justice Working Group.

When New York’s climate action plan is released, it will have implications for every part of the state’s economy – and for every aspect of our lives – no matter where we live in New York, from what we drive, to how we heat our homes.

While the transition will be both difficult and expensive, according to an analysis released by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the benefits of acting now far outweigh the costs.

The price tag for New York to meet its climate mandate is estimated to be between $10 and $15 billion a year.

“Part of the challenge is drawing the connection between what you want as an outcome as a society, as a New Yorker, as an American and what we need to do to get there,” said Bautista of the political will to spend taxpayer dollars on climate efforts. 

When asked how the state will get “buy-in” from New Yorkers who don’t feel that climate change has had a direct impact on their lives, Bautista said, that’s the problem.

“For so many New Yorkers, it’s an invisible impact,” Bautista explained. “But a report from CNN over the summer said the wildfires in California actually had worse air quality impacts in New York and eastern states, and there were actually increases in asthma and air respiratory related deaths. There were more of those on the east coast than even in some of the western states.”

“While New Yorkers may not be aware of the negative health effects of climate change, Bautista said “our doctors surely are.”