For Immediate Release:
March 11, 2021
Dan Morris. 917.952.8920.
Eyeing City Budget Surplus and COVID Relief Funds, Climate Activists Push Mayor de Blasio to Invest $200 Million in Green Jobs
New York – Climate leaders and advocacy organizations involved in the Climate Works for All coalition are urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to invest $200 million in green jobs and infrastructure to drive economic recovery in communities hit hardest by COVID and climate change.
In a Zoom press conference and accompanying letter to de Blasio today, they noted that New York City is on track for a surplus of more than $3 billion this year, and will receive more than $6 billion in COVID relief funds from the federal government.
“You clearly have the resources to make the budgetary investments we’re calling for,” the Climate Works for All coalition tells de Blasio in their letter to him today.
The recommended $200 million would be spread across the following projects to create good-paying jobs for struggling New Yorkers on the front lines of the COVID and climate crises:
- $80 million to retrofit and conduct energy efficiency improvements in public schools;
- $100 million to install solar energy in public schools;
- $17 million to expand organic waste recycling and to implement the Commercial Waste Zone program;
- $3 million for electric school buses, ensuring that community-led transportation planning and environmental justice are at the center of these investments.
During the Zoom press call, climate advocates and environmental justice leaders discussed how these investments in green jobs and infrastructure will not only help drive an equitable recovery after COVID, but also enable the city to tackle the climate crisis in the years ahead.
A full archived video of the press call is available here.
The $200 million for green jobs and climate infrastructure is part of An Equitable Recovery plan Climate Works for All has developed for the city. The plan overall would create 100,000 jobs in Black and brown communities, while tackling the environmental racism and public health disparities that have left so many New Yorkers vulnerable to climate catastrophe and COVID-19.
“By including this $200 million investment in the next city budget, Mayor de Blasio can address both the climate crisis and the economic crisis caused by COVID. With a budget surplus and federal relief funds on the way, the city should go big and bold with climate investments that will help drive an equitable and durable recovery for years to come. Creating thousands of green jobs through the infrastructure projects we have identified will empower Black and brown communities on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic and climate change,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN, an advocacy organization that created and continues to help lead the Climate Works for All coalition.
“Environmental justice and economic justice go hand in hand,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “The climate crisis is here and we cannot wait a moment longer to begin taking aggressive action to combat it. The City of New York has an incredible opportunity to start making investments that will provide good paying jobs to those most impacted, putting folks to work to solve the greatest challenge of our time. I am proud to join with Climate Works for All coalition in demanding the City finally step up and begin taking climate change seriously in the FY22 budget.”
“Budgets reflect our priorities and our values, so if we’re serious about combating the climate crisis we need to prioritize it in the budget,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides. “With aid coming from Washington at long last, we need to seize the opportunity and invest in a comprehensive climate strategy for New York City. The Climate Works for All plan ensures that we have an equitable recovery that benefits our frontline communities and I will fight to get it in the upcoming budget.”
“I’m proud to stand with Climate Works for All today to support their budget priorities for the FY22 New York City budget. As we begin the implementation of the City Council’s historic green buildings legislation, we must provide the funding to retrofit and bring energy efficiency upgrades to our public schools, as well as go beyond that effort to expand recycling and waste management and ensure municipal vehicles on our street are not polluting our communities,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.
“The dangers posed by climate change do not follow budget cycles. It is imperative that we do everything in our power to invest in and build a more resilient city. I am grateful to the advocates in the Climate Works for All Coalition for advocating for these urgent budget priorities, and for ensuring that the city’s climate adaptation leaves no one behind,” said Councilmember Justin Brannan.
|“We must face climate change head on through renewable energy projects and a true just transition. While doing this we need to prioritize Black and Brown communities that have felt both the health and economic impacts of Climate Change and COVID-19 disproportionately. 250,000 people die prematurely because of air pollution every year. We know that exposure to pollution, and pollution-related health conditions like asthma, make people more susceptible to Covid-19. 30,000 people have died from the coronavirus in New York so far. We need to be able to definitively say once and for all that climate change is a public health crisis and that systemic racism is as well. Nurses know that a green economy that works for all of us is critical to the future of our planet and a just society,” said Pat Kane, RN, Executive Director, New York State Nurses Association.
“Investing $100 million to install solar energy in and $80 million for energy efficiency improvements our public schools is a great way to reduce the city’s emissions and dependency on fossil fuels while creating green jobs and a healthier learning environment – not to mention providing children with a hands-on lesson in how to address the climate crisis,” said Sonal Jessel, Director of Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “And investing an additional $3 million in electric school buses will protect New York City’s children from toxic diesel exhaust as they travel to and from these greener schools.”
“The Professional Staff Congress of CUNY (AFT local 2334) stands behind the need for $200 million investment in climate projects that will help NYC, and particularly Black and brown communities, to recover from the crises of Covid-19, economic and climate meltdown. The climate clock is ticking and New Yorkers must lead in bold climate solutions to protect our people, planet and city. These relatively modest investments are a downpayment on a much more full-scale challenge to both prevent and prepare for the climate shocks ahead,” said Nancy Romer of PSC CUNY. “We know that advancing solar panels on every public school building in NYC will move us a giant step forward toward energy independence, community involvement, cleaner air and cheaper energy.”
About Climate Works for All
Climate Works for All (CW4A) is a coalition of labor, community, faith, environmental justice, and climate organizations that have come together to fight climate change and inequality in NYC by demanding a Just Transition for workers and Environmental Justice communities. Our campaigns must move us towards an equitable economy, a resilient, livable and healthy climate, and must prioritize justice for low income Black and Brown communities across New York City. For more information, please visit www.nyclimateworks.org.