The New York State budget was released late last night and now we know what we need to ask our legislators next week. Join NYIPL and the NY Renews coalition for our post-budget Lobby asks. You do not need to speak; we do need you to show up. Every visit already has a lobby lead assigned to guide the group.
At Chautauqua Institute
Rabbi Jacob will be presenting at Chautauqua Institute this summer during Infrastructure Week. He will be delivering a lecture followed by Q&A on our religious approach to addressing climate change. His presentation is scheduled for July 24, 2023 at 2:00pm in the Hall of Philosophy. For further information go to: https://www.chq.org/
Fall Legislative Session
Legislative Update for May 2022 webinar
Thursday, May 26, 2022 @ 7:00pm
Public Testimony before Climate Action Council
I am Rabbi Glenn Jacob, executive director of New York Interfaith Power & Light, an advocacy group organizing people of faith across the state to fight for climate change legislation. On behalf of 3000 members and 130 congregations across the state, we bring two messages to the Climate Action Council.
We as voters and citizens do not tolerate hypocrisy by those who are elected, are employed by, or volunteer on behalf of the state. Six false solutions have been proposed in the scoping plan that in no manner will address climate change and reduce our carbon footprint in the short number of years we have. Biofuels, “renewable” natural gas, biomass, waste incineration, “green” hydrogen and carbon capture technologies either do not exist or they are still destructive to our environment and communities. Those proposing these solutions are misleading New Yorkers for their own narrow benefit.
Most important, the people of faith across the state want to know if the members of the Climate Action Council are going to act with moral courage or succumb to moral cowardice. The only possible solution is reducing the carbon footprint as thoroughly as possible and as soon as possible. Adherence to the CLCPA mandate is the only viable choice, funding its mandate as written, fully. Any other solution is an abdication of your moral obligations to the state, its citizens and to be honest, your families. Are you going to acquiesce to greed and power, or are you going to fight to save the creation?
Let me remind you: We are the first generation to address climate change and we are the last one that can. Thank you.
Let’s Talk to Governor Hochul
Where We Are Going
NYSERDA, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has released its strategic plan for the next three years. We fought to pass the legislation in 2019 that governs where this plan seeks to go. As we continue to fight to fund the 2019 mandate (the CLCPA), this document maps out how the state energy bureaucracy sees the state moving forward.
Environmental Crimes/Environmental Justice
The crime that environmental justice addresses is a challenge to wholly grasp. Carelessly discarding toxic waste that will kill and maim people is a true but misleading definition. Sometimes the perpetrators are not careless or arbitrary. Sometimes the polluters pretend that consequences do not exist, even to the point of creating media campaigns to bolster their claims. Remember clean coal? When the people of the Biblical era began to identify and address the need for justice, they had an inkling of the human potential to kill myriads, but no context of how far some humans are willing to go.
The term “environmental justice” is complex as well, easy to understand from a surface reading yet complicated once one delves into the subject. The fact to know is the highest carbon producing and toxic generating facilities and factories are deliberately located in black and brown communities. Indigenous communities are not far behind. Factories close and the owners take no responsibility for the lethal consequences they leave behind because they took no responsibility while the factories ran.
Environmental justice is endemic, having been with us since the origins of the industrial revolution. Cleaning up one’s industrial messes were never mandated, or the mandates were rendered toothless. The common false claims such as “paying for it will cost jobs” or “we’ll go bankrupt, and no one will have a job” or “we gave them a community (jobs); they should take some responsibility” highlight how deeply buried in the fabric of the economy and the culture the supposed “right to pollute” runs.
The environmental cost of doing business is hardly ever, if ever, factored into corporate business plans. The cost of carbon and environmental pollutions is not included as a debit line in accounting spreadsheets.* A tech company can claim they are “carbon neutral,” but not only did they build that way to save money, they ignored the other environmental degradations they precipitated. The city, the county, the state, or sometimes even the federal government are left with the poisonous consequences. Corporations takes their profits and leave the taxpayers with the environmental costs, which run into the billions, if not the trillions now.
We must convert to a clean renewable energy economy, which will run into trillions of dollars. Where are the additional trillions of dollars to clean up the toxic waste we have now going to come from? From where will the additional money come from to pay for the asthma, the cancers, and the other circulatory and respiratory illnesses caused by these known toxins already present in neighborhoods in every state?
You want to do justice? Then, get angry. Start asking questions. Challenge zoning boards. Demand municipal and county leaders address environmental consequences. Teach your friends and your neighbors. Force the issue into the local news. Preach it.
You want to do justice, which makes you a descendent of the prophets. Taking up the yoke of the commandments is not an easy task, but in every generation, believers have harkened to the call.
Available Programs 2022
- Training for Green Teams
- Workshops (post Covid19)
- Board/ House Committee Training
- Sustainability Manual
- Sustainability Training: setting priorities and implementation
- Network connections local and regional
- Private Consultations
- Legislative updates
- Lobby Training as a person of faith
- Networking with local/regional climate groups
- Lobby opportunities, state and national
- Citizens Respond to Climate Change – A Civics Lesson
- Climate Legislation and Faith
- Environmental Injustice and Racism
- Faith Advocacy Training
- Theology of Speaking to Power
- Build Back Better – Was, Is, Might Be
A Eulogy for COP26-Glasgow
There are two ways to view the United Nations’ COP26 convocation in Glasgow that ended this past weekend. Either COP26 was a complete failure for the planet and a win for the fossil fuel industries, or COP26 accomplished part of its mission to highlight how far we have come in ten years and what we must do in the next ten years. An element of truth may be found in both views.
The typical method for evaluating laws and initiatives on climate change hinges on three criteria. The first is a baseline of cutting carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. The second is stopping or substantially reducing government subsidies to fossil fuel industries. The last criterion is a carbon tax or carbon-producer penalties that curb carbon producing behaviors. COP26 did not produce any policies that address any of these three criteria.
Therefore COP26 was a complete failure.
Except, the United Nations and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has no authority to enforce anything in any agreement. In the Paris Agreement, UNFCCC was tasked with structuring and publicizing voluntary national goals and commitments. The original COP agreement cannot make any country or corporation do anything.
This lack of authority and weakened encouragement to act is what Greta Thunberg was referring to when she condemned the prodigious diplomatic production of empty sentiments and weak commitments as “blah, blah, blah.” The negotiations were mostly between white men over the age of sixty years who arrived at the conference on private or chartered jets. The last point to the sense of failure is more lobbyists for the fossil fuels industries attended than diplomats.
The final agreement in Glasgow is hollow and dependent on the voluntary cooperation of governments and corporations – just as it was envisioned in the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement, even with its voluntary mandate, is working though. Ten years ago, the world was well on its way to a 4oC – 6oC rise in ambient temperature by 2100. At Glasgow, the scientists announced we have bent the curve downward to 2.7oC. No one will argue we have saved the planet from climate change yet, but the trajectory is in the correct direction. Despite the billions of dollars spent in the past ten years by the fossil fuel industry to defeat renewable energy and climate change legislation, we are still accomplishing systemic change.
Towards this incremental trend downwards, a global treaty on methane was brokered by the USA and UK, which was signed by more than 100 countries. A 24/7 Carbon-free Energy Compact was formed that cemented the partnership between renewable energy companies with Sustainable Energy for All and UN Energy. Over 100 companies pledged to stop deforestation by 2030, which is weak because the Amazon Basin could be entirely deforested before then. Organizations and governments pledged $10.5 billion towards helping emerging economies transition from fossil fuels. No more financing is allowed for international fossil fuel projects. Public financing for overseas coal projects is ending.
As the last ten years have shown and Glasgow confirmed, national governments are going to be the cars at the back of the train. NGO’s, renewable energy companies, scientists, engineers, non-national governments (state and local), and climate activists are driving the train.
We bid goodbye to the utterly dismal threat of complete extinction of the planet and life. Though tentative and not at full strength, we celebrate the successes at turning the tide and reversing the global warming trend. Although we are not close to our goal, we have made great strides that should give us hope and renew our strength to continue the legislative and regulatory battles that loom.
Yes, when community organizers declare “you are the change,” Glasgow COP 26 confirms it. As a fellow citizen of the planet, thank you.
For a deep dive into the statements made above, go to https://climateactiontracker.org/publications/glasgows-2030-credibility-gap-net-zeros-lip-service-to-climate-action/