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New York praised for climate leadership

Gov. Cuomo calls on world leaders to follow state-led initiatives.

By Daniel J. Graeber
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised by the environmental community for sending a strong message on climate policies. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised by the environmental community for sending a strong message on climate policies. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- New York state won praise from the environmental community for taking the lead on steps needed to advance a low-carbon economy.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a series of measures aimed at curbing the threat from climate change, including major investments for the state's solar power industry. Cuomo said his administration already has the most aggressive emissions plan in the nation, pledging in early 2015 to cut emissions by 40 percent of the 1990 levels by 2030.

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"We are joining together and committing ourselves to tackling climate change and showing the nation what is possible," he said in a statement. "Now it is up to world leaders to follow suit."

The governor said in a speech alongside low-carbon advocate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore that New York was joining 19 countries, the state of California and dozens of other regional government bodies in North America in making the commitments.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council said New York was setting the gold standard by following precedent set by other global economies in making commitments to tackle climate change.

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"New York is moving forward with the mantle of climate and clean energy leadership," Kit Kennedy, NRDC director of energy programs, said in a statement.

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the five city pension boards to consider a proposal to divest from coal to align funds with current trajectories in the energy market.

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Industry critics said divesting from coal for the sake of addressing climate goals was a short-sighted investment strategy. Matt Dempsey, a spokesman for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said it's not a particular act of "political heroism" to shy away from coal as pensions funds still hold oil and gas securities.

New York state law requires that 30 percent of the electricity in the state comes from renewable energy by the end of this year.

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