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While the federal government and many states have been sluggish in taking definitive action against climate change, New York has offered a range of examples of what a state can do by itself. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a landmark 2019 law, mandated that the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The Climate Action Council of experts established by the legislation is expected to work out all the details in a plan due by the end of 2022. And offshore wind and solar energy projects got a boost in the recently passed state budget.

None of these efforts, however, definitively answer a multibillion-dollar question: How is the state going to pay for all of that? With just two months to go until legislators adjourn for the summer, a political alliance of left-leaning environmentalists and community organizers called New York Renews is pushing the idea of a carbon tax to raise billions of dollars each year via legislation called the Climate and Community Investment Act. Unless this gets done, other efforts might be in vain, supporters say. “The CLCPA will be the emperor with no clothes unless we pass the CCIA,” said state Sen. Kevin Parker, a Democrat representing Brooklyn who chairs the Committee on Energy and Telecommunications and is sponsoring the bill. “Revenue pricing will be key.”

“It’s not only about charging polluters, but also how do we actually invest these funds in the solutions that we have envisioned,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, executive director of Align.

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