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Climate change continues to have severe and long-term effects on New York City residents. Although all New Yorkers will be impacted, low-income residents will disproportionately shoulder the burdens created by this crisis. Low-income communities sit at a nexus of physical, political, and economic forces that leave them most vulnerable to extreme weather events and other impacts of climate change.

While daunting, this challenge presents an unprecedented opportunity to make significant progress towards a more just, “living” economy in NYC that ensures families and communities have access to high quality career-path jobs, sustainable and healthy neighborhoods, and ultimately, social equity. But a “living” economy will only be realized when our city places equity goals at the center of government actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a changing climate.


We have seen the transformative impacts of post-Sandy climate resiliency investments when they are focused on achieving community benefits – to date, NYC has placed over 3,700 flood-zone residents into rebuilding jobs and placed over 100 Sandy-impacted residents into union pre-apprenticeship programs.

After the People’s Climate March, we applauded the response by the Mayor and City Council to set goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, achieving zero waste to landfills by 2030, and installing 100 megawatts of renewable energy on public buildings by 2025. But we know that bold climate goals must be implemented in conjunction with equally ambitious equity goals in mind. Soon after the People’s Climate March, the newly formed Climate Works for All coalition of labor unions, community groups, environmental justice organizations, and other allied advocates released its first report, Climate Works for All: A Platform for Reducing Emissions, Protecting Our Communities, and Creating Good Jobs for New Yorkers, that details ten proposals to make our city more resilient, create nearly 40,000 good jobs each year, and cut our annual greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 12 million metric tons of carbon equivalent.


20160922_121832Currently, Climate Works for All is spearheading a campaign called the Public Power Project to transform the way that New York City transitions to a renewable energy future. The coalition launched the campaign with a white paper report, Restart Solar: How NYC Can Restart Its Solar Program to Benefit Workers and Community, to call for changes to the city’s public sector solar program that will directly result in investments and benefits to working people and our communities. The following shifts to the city’s current approach to implementing renewable energy on public buildings, such as schools and hospitals, will lead us to greater equity in one of the most unequal cities in the United States.

Key goals of the campaign include:

  • Create a local hire program and pathways to apprenticeship and civil service titles that bring well-paying jobs to our city’s residents.
  • Protect the public interest by ensuring good working conditions via project labor agreements and preserve work in the public sector where appropriate
  • Prioritize renewable energy investments in environmental justice and low income communities, with a focus on communities that have historically been sites for polluting infrastructure.
  • Conduct a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of different financing mechanisms, including direct funding, that facilitates the greatest benefits to the city.
  • Share energy savings from solar installations with the communities and/or sites in which the projects occur.

For more information on Climate Works for All contact Brett Thomason at