L-R: Ulysees Wingo (Buffalo Common Council); Franchelle Hart (Open Buffalo); Lynda Schneekloth (Climate Justice Coalition of WNY); Eric Walker (Erie County); NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
April 21, 2016
On the Eve of Earth Day, Local Grassroots Organizations Host New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for a Community Conversation on Climate Justice
Buffalo, NY - “We’ve just had the warmest month of what is emerging to be the warmest year following the warmest years 2014 and 2015. Climate change is right now, and if we are to maintain a liveable planet in a way that meets the needs of all people now and into the future, we must act urgently and with great courage,” said Lynda Schneekloth with the Climate Justice Coalition of WNY. In the U.S. context, New York State is poised to lead on bold, progressive solutions to climate change that dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions while driving economic growth. In 2014, the NYS Public Service Commission embarked on an ambitious reform agenda, Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), that heralded a shift in the retail electricity sector in New York State. REV would transform an antiquated electricity system based on large scale fossil fuel generation and long distance transmission into a decentralized system built on smaller scale renewable energy generation and energy efficiency. Renewable energy industries in New York are already experiencing boom days. In 2015, New York installed 241 MW of solar electric capacity, more than one third of its total installed capacity to date, and increased annual job growth in the solar PV industry in the state by 40%, ranking it fourth nationally. At the end of last year, Governor Cuomo committed the PSC to outline in a Clean Energy Standard a path toward an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.
While that path now runs through REV, a truly democratic and equitable transition will require increased public participation and a New York State Legislature prepared to take corrective action should the Governor and the PSC fail to deliver climate solutions for all. Communities that have historically suffered from legacy environmental burdens like lead and industrial contamination, lack of access to affordable energy and healthy homes, economic disinvestment and dislocation, and chronic joblessness must now be recognized and uplifted as leaders in this transition, and in the broader movement for climate justice in New York State. NY Renews, a statewide coalition of over 50 environmental, organized labor, community, and environmental justice organizations is working to make this transition a reality. “Access to affordable energy is a looming concern for many Buffalo residents. Unpredictable weather, mixed with some of the oldest housing stock in the country is having a crippling economic impact on working families and the elderly, many of whom live on fixed incomes. We want everyone to have access to affordable energy that will keep communities stable and our planet clean,” said Franchelle Hart, Executive Director of Open Buffalo and NY Renews coalition partner.
PUSH Buffalo, Open Buffalo, the Climate Justice Coalition of WNY, and NY Renews are excited to host NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at the Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Library for a community conversation around climate justice at 6:00pm on April 21, 2016, which marks the eve of Earth Day. "We are at a critical moment in the fight against climate change" said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. "Environmental leaders, labor leaders, and faith leaders from across the state are coming together to find creative solutions that help our planet and all our communities, at the same time. This is the moment for a new, more inclusive, more ambitious environmental movement." The conversation will examine opportunities and challenges faced by marginalized communities, environmentalists, and local government leaders as they seek solutions that put people and planet first. “As government officials, we are commissioned to ensure that the voice of those who elected us in office reverberates through the legislation that we enact. Furthermore, I submit that those who are the least responsible for the condition of our society and planet are those who are most affected,” said Ulysees O. Wingo Sr., Buffalo Common Councilmember for the Masten District.
Please direct all media inquiries to: Clarke Gocker, PUSH Buffalo, 716-884-0356, email@example.com.