In January 2017, days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, I traveled to Albany with 30 fellow young New Yorkers to deliver an urgent plea to our Governor: Trump is a climate emergency, Andrew Cuomo needs to show some urgency.1 Those words echoed through the halls of the state capital as we shared our stories on why we fight for climate justice.
I shared that as a 25-year-old New Yorker, I was born into a world plagued by a fake debate about the reality of the climate crisis caused by executives at companies like Exxon. I doubled down on my commitment to hold elected officials accountable and fight for climate justice. Instead of heeding our calls, Cuomo had nearly 20 of us arrested.
That was nearly two years ago. In that time, the Trump administration has backed the US out of the Paris Agreement, obliterated common sense environmental protections, and turned a greedy, blind eye as fires, floods and storms have devastated communities from California to Puerto Rico.
That’s why on September 7, I once again put my body on the line to risk arrest and shut down Third Avenue outside Governor Cuomo’s office. In the absence of federal leadership, it’s up to our cities and states to step up to the plate with bold climate solutions. I took action because Governor Cuomo’s half-measures and lip service will lead to inevitable chaos and destruction for my generation and our future. Will you join me in urging Gov. Cuomo to build a Fossil Free New York?
Today, we had our day in court, and the work ahead has never been more clear: New Yorkers need Governor Andrew Cuomo to walk the talk on climate, and take action at scale with the crisis. That means: (1) no fossil fuel projects, especially fracking infrastructure; (2) a just transition to 100% renewables; and (3) make corporate polluters and divest from fossil fuels.
New Yorkers know the destruction of climate change all too well. Six years after Superstorm Sandy too many of us are still recovering and rebuilding — while still vulnerable to inevitable future storms.
Governor Cuomo has said “you are what you build,” and we agree. Yet despite heeding the calls of New Yorkers to ban fracking and supporting our pension funds divesting from fossil fuels, Cuomo continues to allow fracked gas pipelines and power plants to wreak havoc on our communities. Under his watch, New York has less than 5% of our energy coming from safe and renewable sources like solar and wind. And despite opposing offshore drilling and investing in offshore wind, Cuomo has failed make climate justice a priority, allowing fossil fuel cronies to keep a stranglehold over our politics and economy.2
We envision a world where New York truly leads the fight against climate change; where mass investment in a Green New Deal secures good, fair jobs for all New Yorkers in a prospering economy; where our pension funds divest from fossil fuels and invest in solutions to protect our communities at scale with the crises we’re facing.
As he embarks on his third term as Governor of the great state of New York, Andrew Cuomo has the chance to be a real climate leader and build a Fossil Free New York. Will you call him and urge him to do so? Each one of us has a role to play in building a New York that works for all. The fight ahead in 2019 will require more escalation, more arrests, more picketing and more direct action to have our voices break through and get Cuomo to act.