Historic Wildfires and Hurricanes Set the Tone for Climate Week

Climate Week NYC, which has occurred annually since 2009, is more urgent this year than ever before. The event brings together climate activists, academics, business leaders, and government officials from around the world to share knowledge, highlight both progress and challenges in fighting climate change, and build the networks that we will need to achieve global net-zero emissions.

Running from September 21-27, most of Climate Week NYC will be held virtually due to COVID-19, but there is still a robust schedule of events. NYLCV is participating in several events this year, including a panel on carbon pricing on Monday and a panel on decarbonizing the downstate electrical grid on Thursday. We are also holding our annual gala on Thursday evening.

Climate Week comes at a difficult time for the environment. The West Coast is facing wildfires of unprecedented ferocity, the Trump Administration has rolled back dozens of environmental regulations, and New York City recently made devastating cuts to the Department of Sanitation, including suspending organic waste recycling. The effects of climate change are more visible than ever, but at times it appears that our leaders are shrinking from the fight. Despite the bad news, New York State is fortunately still moving in the right direction.

The Climate Action Council, which is the body charged with developing a plan to implement New York’s groundbreaking Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), has been regularly meeting. They recently appointed the advisory panels that will help guide its work, including a Transportation Advisory Panel that NYLCV President Julie Tighe will serve on.

While the work of implementing the CLCPA is important, the most exciting developments in the fight against climate change this year are happening at the grassroots level. In New York City, more people are embracing a vision of the future that includes additional bikes and fewer cars, with the joy and freedom of bike riding even being incorporated into recent Black Lives Matter protests. Sunrise Movement and other youth activist groups are making climate change a central campaign issue across the state, and electing people at all levels of government who will make climate action a priority.

Even though 2020 has been a difficult year, this Climate Week should be a time to imagine what New York can look like in a decade if we commit to rebuilding stronger and greener, with an ambitious vision for the future that centers around sustainability and fairness.