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As Cuomo Touts Green New Deal for New York, Critics Warn 'Empty Rhetoric' Just as 'Dangerous as Inaction'

"A true Green New Deal for New York must include a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure and a commitment to transition New York to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030."

protester, cuomo

As New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined his goals for the 2019 legislative session on Monday, protesters gathered outside to urge him to move the state #OffFossilFuels immediately. (Photos: David Ambrosio/Twitter; New York Governor's Office)

Climate campaigners on Monday responded to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2019 Justice Agenda—which includes a pledge to pursue a Green New Deal for the state—with demands that the Democratic governor push for even bolder policies than those he is promising.

"Cuomo calls the climate crisis a matter of life and death, but unfortunately his policies don't match the lofty rhetoric."
—Alex Beauchamp,  Food & Water Watch

The governor's office claimed that by making the state's electricity carbon neutral by 2040, "New York will be the most progressive state in the nation in moving to renewables and growing the new sustainable green economy," but green groups say that's not nearly detailed or ambitious enough.

"Cuomo calls the climate crisis a matter of life and death, but unfortunately his policies don't match the lofty rhetoric," Food & Water Watch Northeast region director Alex Beauchamp declared in a statement. "A vague pledge of carbon neutrality by the year 2040 is not the bold action necessary to move New York off fossil fuels."

Betámia Coronel, a native New Yorker and 350.org U.S. national organizer, concurred—warning that "empty rhetoric and lip service is as dangerous as inaction."

"Cuomo must go much bigger," Beauchamp said. "A true Green New Deal for New York must include a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure and a commitment to transition New York to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030."

"If he's serious about a Green New Deal for New York, Cuomo will take concrete action now to stop all fossil fuel projects, including fracked gas pipelines like the proposed Williams Pipeline and dirty power plants wreaking havoc on our communities."
—Betámia Coronel, 350.org

Coronel also charged that "if he's serious about a Green New Deal for New York, Cuomo will take concrete action now to stop all fossil fuel projects, including fracked gas pipelines like the proposed Williams Pipeline and dirty power plants wreaking havoc on our communities."

Their demands come amid surging national momentum in favor of the incoming Democratically-controlled U.S. House working toward a federal Green New Deal as well as mounting international pressure for countries around the world to take more rapid action to curb planet-warming emissions in the wake of a disappointing agreement out of COP24, which concluded in Poland over the weekend.

New York climate advocates, meanwhile, continue to urge Cuomo to pass the Climate and Communities Protection Act (CCPA)—legislation they have pushed for the past three years.

The measure, as NY Renews noted Monday, "would put New York on the path to 100 percent renewable energy—not just in electricity generation, but economy-wide—while mandating fair labor standards for green jobs and targeting investments in low-income communities and communities of color."

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Enacting the CCPA "and investing in communities on the frontlines of climate change would make a Green New Deal for New York a reality," Coronel concluded.

"From hard-won solar co-ops to fossil fuel divestment and reinvestment in good, union jobs, the solutions toward a 100 percent renewable economy already exist," she added. "Throughout his first 100 days and beyond, we'll do whatever it takes to hold Cuomo accountable to walk the talk and truly make New York a beacon of progressive action for climate justice."

Cuomo outlined his goals for the first 100 days of the next legislative session in a speech hosted by the Roosevelt Institute in New York City. Watch:

Outside the building where the governor was delivering his speech, activists gathered to demand that he move #OffFossilFuels immediately, with many carrying signs condemning the Williams pipeline.

Reporters and activists—including Beauchamp—shared updates from the protest outside Cuomo's speech on Twitter:

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