Local Actions Support Nation-Leading Goals of New York's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act
Certified Communities Are Models for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Building Local Climate Resilience
Three Climate Smart Communities Awarded Recertification; Erie County Advances to Silver-Level Certification
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the latest round of communities to achieve certification as part of New York State's Climate Smart Communities program, which supports local efforts to meet the economic, social, and environmental challenges posed by climate change. By taking meaningful steps to mitigate and adapt to climate change, 11 local governments met the criteria to be recognized as leaders for the first time. Additionally, three communities already in the program recertified and increased the number of certification points earned during the most recent round of review. Finally, Erie County ascended to the silver level.
The actions announced today during Climate Week 2021 support New York's ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050, as outlined in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, or CLCPA. The announcement was made in the city of Glens Falls, which achieved bronze-level Climate Smart certification.
"Our Climate Smart Communities program empowers local governments to take bold action to meet the challenges driven by our changing climate, and I commend these communities for implementing effective measures to help meet the ambitious goals of New York's landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and for setting an example for other municipalities to follow," Governor Hochul said. "I particularly wish to congratulate the town of New Castle, New York's very first community to adopt the Climate Smart Community pledge, on achieving certified-bronze status and bringing us one step closer to a cleaner, greener future."
New York's newly certified (and recertified) Climate Smart Communities listed by region:
Albany County (bronze)
City of Glens Falls (bronze)
Town of Queensbury (bronze)
Town of East Hampton (recertified bronze)
Village of Ardsley (bronze)
Town of Gardiner (bronze)
Village of Hastings-on-Hudson (recertified silver)
Town of New Castle (bronze)
City of Poughkeepsie (bronze)
Town of Poughkeepsie (bronze)
Town of Woodstock (recertified bronze)
Town of Potsdam (bronze)
Village of Potsdam (bronze)
Western New York
Erie County (silver)
Town of Grand Island (bronze)
"Our Climate Smart Communities program empowers local governments to take bold action to meet the challenges driven by our changing climate, and I commend these communities for implementing effective measures to help meet the ambitious goals of New York's landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and for setting an example for other municipalities to follow."
DEC Commissioner and Climate Action Council Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, "From devastating hurricanes pummeling the East Coast, to destructive wildfires consuming communities out west, climate change demands that we take action. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach that requires contributions from all levels of government. I applaud these newly certified Climate Smart Communities helping to combat the climate crisis by acting locally and bolstering New York State's national climate leadership."
Established in 2009, the interagency Climate Smart Communities program provides guidance and technical support to local governments to take locally driven climate action. The first step to becoming climate smart is to register by pledging to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. To date, 345 local governments, representing more than 9.4 million New Yorkers, have adopted the Climate Smart Communities pledge.
DEC launched the certification program in 2014 to document and celebrate the accomplishments of communities taking climate action. There are now 81 certified Climate Smart Communities in New York State. To be certified, a community must establish an active climate change task force that includes residents and municipal representatives. Most certified communities complete greenhouse gas inventories that estimate emissions at the local level and help local leaders identify how best to help New York State meet the ambitious greenhouse gas reduction requirements of the climate act. The town of Woodstock, for example, reduced greenhouse gas emissions from its government facilities more than 40 percent between 2011 and 2019. For more information, see the online certification reports that describe all the actions that each certified community took to achieve certification.
The 15 communities recognized today by Governor Hochul also participate in the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's (NYSERDA) Clean Energy Communities program, which assists local governments to implement clean energy actions and save on energy costs. In fact, 12 of the 15 are designated Clean Energy Communities in addition to being certified Climate Smart Communities.
NYSERDA President and CEO and Climate Council Co-Chair Doreen M. Harris said, "Congratulations to all of the newly certified Climate Smart Communities as well as the communities who have continued their commitment to prioritize climate change readiness to ensure the resilience of their communities and safety of their residents. Here in New York, we have seen the devastation and destruction that comes with a changing climate and the achievements being recognized today demonstrate collaboration and leadership at the local level that is critical to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts that deliver meaningful climate results for generations of today and tomorrow."
City of Glens Falls Mayor Dan Hall said, "The Climate Smart Communities program is an efficient administrative tool that allows communities to assess their impact on the planet and offers proactive steps that they can take to address climate change at the local level. The City of Glens Falls is both pleased and honored to be receiving recognition for its efforts to both reduce its carbon footprint and to address and mitigate the impacts of a changing climate using the CSC program as a blueprint for action."
Chairwoman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors Rachel Seeber said, "There are few things more important to Warren County's local economy than protecting the natural resources that have attracted visitors and residents here for centuries. We are the home of Lake George and countless additional environmental treasures, and that is why Warren County is an active participant in the Climate Smart Communities program. Warren County welcomes Governor Hochul to our community to promote this initiative and we look forward to working with her administration on this and other opportunities to strengthen our local economy."
NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities Program
Communities that complete at least four NYSERDA-identified high-impact actions are designated Clean Energy Communities and are eligible for grants to help with deploying low carbon strategies. Grant opportunities include adopting the NYStretchEnergy Code, undertaking one or more clean energy Community Campaigns, and additional grants where a New York State Disadvantaged Community is included.
Eligible city, town, village, and county governments may apply for grants on a rolling basis, until December 31, 2025 or until funds are exhausted. Funds are being provided through the Clean Energy Fund and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Clean Energy Community Coordinators are available at no charge to help communities develop and prioritize clean energy goals, access easy-to-use resources such as guidance documents and case studies and take advantage of available funding and technical assistance opportunities. For more information on Clean Energy Communities, visit http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/cec.
DEC Climate Smart Communities Funding Programs
Four of the communities certified today received funding through the DEC Climate Smart Communities Grant program. Established in 2016, this 50/50 matching grant program supports municipalities in completing certification actions and implementing projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to extreme weather. For example, Erie County has received two Climate Smart grants totaling about $680,000.
Seven of the communities certified today have received awards under DEC's Municipal Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program in prior years. The ZEV program offers grants to install electric-vehicle charging stations for public use and rebates on the purchase or lease of electric vehicles for municipal fleets. For example, the village of Hastings-on-Hudson has received awards totaling $28,500 under the ZEV program.
Visit DEC's website for more information about these funding programs.
New York State's nation-leading climate plan is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $21 billion in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2019, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.
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