New York unveils new climate initiatives for 2018

Gov. Cuomo said he'd steer a climate advisory panel that would avoid "political interference" from the Trump administration.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Jan. 3, 2018 at 6:00 AM
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Jan. 3 (UPI) -- As part of a sweeping green mandate, New York's governor said he'd reconvene a climate advisory panel to avoid "political interference" from the White House.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a State of the State roll out included a broad-based agenda to address climate change by building a state economy based on clean energy and through efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In June, the governor formed a climate alliance with his counterparts in California and Washington state to work on the benchmarks laid out in the global Paris climate deal. After President Donald Trump took steps to leave the agreement, Cuomo's office said the administration took another "misguided step" by disbanding a federal advisory panel on climate assessment.

In his annual initiative, Cuomo said he'd reconvene the committee to vet ways to maneuver through some of the challenges presented by a changing climate.

"As a result, the advisory committee will continue its critical work without political interference and provide the guidance needed to adapt to a changing climate," his office stated.

Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the fourth-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, were linked in some communities to climate change. Many of the states in Sandy's path, like New York, were left without power and some regional leaders imposed a gas-rationing system after major damage to regional energy infrastructure.

"New Yorkers know too well the devastation caused by climate change, and in order to slow the effects of extreme weather and build our communities to be stronger and more resilient, we must make significant investments in renewable energy," Cuomo said in a statement.

The 2018 climate agenda builds on steps already taken by the governor, including a mandate to get half of the state's electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2030.

Among the new efforts is a call to procure at least 800 megawatts of offshore wind power by next year. The governor also launched an initiative to have 1,500 MW of energy storage established the 2025, the largest state-level commitment in the country.

Part of Cuomo's agenda last year was divesting the state's retirement fund from significant fossil fuel investments.

The state retirement fund was valued at about $200 billion and heavily invested in fossil fuels. Last year, it listed holdings in more than 50 oil and gas companies and had nearly $1 billion alone invested in Exxon Mobil.

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