by Christopher Rizzo

New York State’s Climate Action Council released its interim Climate Action Plan on November 9, 2010.  The Plan addresses ways to reduce the State’s greenhouse gas emissions as well as adapt to climate change.  The Council operates under the Governor’s Executive Order 24, which he issued in August 2009.  That order directs the State to reduce its emissions by 80% by 2050 and formed the Council to outline a path to achieving this very formidable goal.

The Plan outlines possible policy, funding and legal initiatives in the categories of green buildings, transportation, land-use planning, energy, agriculture and waste.  For example, the Plan identifies a more aggressive renewable portfolio standard (now 30%) or a more expansive Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as possible approaches to reducing emissions.  The Plan also encourages more investment in transit and high-speed rail, which is exceedingly unlikely given the State’s fiscal condition.

I have some doubts about the State’s ability to meet the 80% reduction by 2050.  Part of my doubts stem from the present fiscal condition of the State, which will hamstring efforts to fund mass transit and renewable energy improvements.   But I am even more concerned about citizens’ willingness to accept aggressive changes to the way we build, travel and live.   Effecting these changes will require real leadership from Albany and Washington.

The Council will take public comments through February 7, 2011.