Albany Common Council Members Celebrate Environmental Justice Resolutions and Announce Plans for Green New Deal
Albany, NY– On Monday, June 6, advocates and elected officials celebrated the passage of two climate resolutions: in support of the New York State Climate Action Council’s process and building decarbonization and electrification in New York State. Ahead of the Council meeting, local elected officials also joined with advocates to speak to announce a new plan to pursue a Green New Deal in the City of Albany.
“The Albany Common Council is excited to announce our pursuit of a Green New Deal,” said Owusu Anane, Albany Common Council Member for the 10th Ward. “This process will center racial and economic justice and ensure a healthy future for all of our residents.”
Building decarbonization has become a crucial part of climate activists’ vision for New York State. Buildings recently surpassed cars and trucks as the leading source of emissions statewide, and the burning of fossil fuels for heat, cooking, and other needs pumps hundreds of millions of pounds of carbon into the atmosphere each year.
“The U.S. – with just over 4% of the world’s population – is responsible for about 15% of global emissions of carbon. The typical American’s annual per capita carbon footprint is over 5 times the world per capita average. New York State has the 4th largest population in America and historically has had major political, financial and cultural influence in the U.S,” said Merton D. Simpson, Albany County Legislator for District 2 and Co-Chair of Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy (SHARE). “If the policies in these resolutions are adopted they will make a major contribution to mitigating global warming and creating a sustainable and positive energy future, enormously benefiting Albany residents.”
The public health benefits of building decarbonization are extensive and relevant to all households. According to a meta-analysis from 2013, children living in homes with gas stoves were 42 percent more likely to experience symptoms associated with asthma, and 24 percent more likely to be diagnosed with lifetime asthma. According to an April 2022 report by the Institute for Policy Integrity, lower-income households and people of color are especially vulnerable to gas-stove pollution, since these groups already experience worse air pollution, and are more likely to live in smaller homes with limited ventilation.
“Decarbonization and electrification are small steps towards righting the wrongs of abusing our environment, our ecosystem, and our natural resources,” said Tabetha Wilson, Board President for AVillage Inc. “Confronting environmental racism with climate and energy policies is a key social determinant of health and will contribute to the reduction of unnecessary hospitalizations, improve health disparities, and reduce violence and incarceration.”
Attendees at Monday’s event also made clear that the legislative resolutions are only one part of a broader community effort that will be needed to address climate change, carbon emissions, and racial justice through a holistic workforce development strategy with wraparound services.
“We invite everyone in the City to contribute to this work through weatherization and electrification of homes, using non-polluting transportation, composting of food waste and minimization of material waste, and making our commitments and achievements a model for other communities,” said Dan Kirk-Davidoff, Chair of the City of Albany Sustainability Advisory Committee.
“We can and we will do whatever is necessary to combat climate change and mitigate its effects on our community. Climate change is already impacting our communities but in an unequal way and if we don’t act now and with a sense of urgency then we will be unprepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow. We already have a housing crisis but what will that look like once climate migration picks up? Though today’s votes are symbolic in nature, it is an important success that the Common Council of Albany is ready and willing to engage with this crisis. We know that if we pass smart policies like the Green New Deal, then we can turn this challenge into an opportunity to build climate-ready cities using renewable energy and good paying union jobs.” said Alycia Bacon, NY Organizer, Mothers Out Front.
“The Common Council’s support of building electrification is right in line with the Networked Geothermal scoping studies ongoing in Albany’s Sheridan Hollow and Southeast neighborhoods.” said John Ciovacco, President of Aztech Geothermal and the Project Manager of the two large-scale electrification projects in disadvantaged communities. “Once installing heat pumps is a requirement, all heating and cooling companies will make the shift, and we’ll see strong job growth in this area.”
Among the attendees were Alycia Bacon, Organizer with Mothers Out Front, John Ciovacco, President of Aztech Geothermal; Sistah Padin, local advocate and educator; Merton D. Simpson, Co-Chair of SHARE and Albany County Legislature, District 2; Tabetha Wilson, AVillage, Inc, Board President; Daniel Kirk- Davidoff, Chair, City of Albany Sustainability Advisory Committee; Corey Ellis, Albany City Council President; and Owusu Anane, Common Council Member, 10th Ward, and lead sponsor of both resolutions.