Local Actions Support State's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act
Certified Communities Are Models for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Building Local Climate Resilience
New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal Joins Climate Smart Communities Program
Read New York State's Earth Day 2023 Proclamation Here
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. The announcement signifies meaningful steps being taken by 19 local governments to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The announcement was made during New York's week-long Earth Week celebration. The Governor also released a proclamation designating April 22, 2023, as Earth Day in New York State.
"This Earth Week, we're celebrating New York's progress toward creating a cleaner, more sustainable future and the Climate Smart Communities program is key to helping us achieve these goals," Governor Hochul said. "This collaborative program empowers local governments to take action to meet the challenge of our changing climate. I commend these communities for implementing measures that will adapt to the ongoing impacts of climate change and increase community resilience to extreme weather."
To achieve Climate Smart Community certification, local governments accumulate points for planning and implementation actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve community resilience to the worsening impacts of climate change. Recently, 18 new communities successfully met the criteria to be newly recognized as leaders at the bronze level and the town of Bedford ascended from bronze to silver — the highest level of achievement available.
- Town of Canaan (Columbia County) - bronze
- Town of Chatham (Columbia County) - bronze
- Town of Colonie (Albany County) - bronze
- Columbia County - bronze
- Town of Ghent (Columbia County) - bronze
- Town of Hillsdale (Columbia County) - bronze
- Village of Kinderhook (Columbia County) - bronze
- Town of Taghkanic (Columbia County) - bronze
Central New York
- Village of Fayetteville (Onondaga County) - bronze
- Village of Tully (Onondaga County) - bronze
- Town of Henrietta (Monroe County) - bronze
- Monroe County - bronze
- Village of Sodus (Wayne County) - bronze
- Town of Bedford (Westchester County) - silver
- Town of Hurley (Ulster County) - bronze
- Town of Union Vale (Dutchess County) - bronze
- Village of Warwick (Orange County) - bronze
- City of White Plains (Westchester County) - bronze
- Town of Newfield (Tompkins County) - bronze
A full list of actions completed by certified Climate Smart Communities can be found here.
The Governor also announced that New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) is the newest participant in the State's interagency Climate Smart Communities effort to encourage and assist local governments in taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the effects of climate change. HCR joins several other state entities in sponsoring the program, including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Department of Public Service, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Department of Health, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and New York Power Authority (NYPA).
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "DEC applauds Homes and Community Renewal for joining the Climate Smart Communities team and celebrates the work of the certified communities who are serving as models for municipalities across the state. These local climate leaders are acting to incorporate clean energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and implement climate resiliency projects to benefit their communities and protect them from the consequences of our changing climate."
New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "HCR is proud to join the State's Climate Smart Communities program and work with local governments across New York in implementing measures that will help reduce and mitigate the impact of climate change in their own backyards. Thank you to Governor Hochul for her commitment to taking the effects of climate change seriously and congratulations to the 19 new Climate Smart Communities honored today."
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 a Climate Smart Community is to register by pledging to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. To date, 377 local governments representing more than 9.4 million New Yorkers adopted the Climate Smart Communities pledge. The certification program was launched in 2014 to document and celebrate the accomplishments of communities taking climate action. The addition of today's new communities brings New York's total number of certified Climate Smart Communities to 118 - 10 at the silver level and 108 at the bronze level.
For more information on the Climate Smart Communities Certification Program, go here.
Climate Smart Communities Coordinators provide free technical support to municipalities across the state and assists local governments in taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change through outreach, planning, education, and capacity building. To contact a Climate Smart Communities Coordinator, go here.
NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities Program
All of the communities recognized today also participate in NYSERDA's Clean Energy Communities program, which assists local governments to implement clean energy actions and save on energy costs. In addition to being certified Climate Smart Communities, 18 of the 19 are designated Clean Energy Communities. Communities that complete at least four NYSERDA-identified high-impact actions are designated as Clean Energy Communities and are eligible for grants to help with deploying low-carbon strategies. Grants are available to support actions like adopting the NYStretch Energy Code and undertaking clean energy community campaigns. Additional funds are also available for disadvantaged communities. Funds are provided through the Clean Energy Fund and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "I am pleased to recognize these 19 communities for taking strong action against the impacts of climate change and thank New York State Homes and Community Renewal, for their support of the Climate Smart Communities program. Reducing emissions and building local resilience are priorities that we can achieve together, and each contribution moves us closer to creating a sustainable future for all New Yorkers."
DEC Climate Smart Communities Funding Programs
Two of the communities certified today, the town of Bedford and Monroe County, 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 the impacts of climate change. In 2019, Bedford received a $37,422 grant for a food scraps recycling pilot program. Since 2019, Monroe County has received a total of nearly $797,000 for five Climate Smart Communities grant projects. Its most recent awards are for producing three planning documents for the entire county: a climate vulnerability assessment, a climate adaptation plan, and an organics management plan.
Nine 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. Rebates toward the purchase or lease of electric vehicles for municipal fleets are also available under this program. The town of Bedford, for example, received approximately $46,000 between 2017 and 2019 for a combination of rebates for three electric vehicles and grants for three Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations.
For more information on the DEC-funded programs associated with the Climate Smart Communities Program, go here.
Seven of the communities certified today include neighborhoods that meet New York's Climate Justice Working Group disadvantaged communities criteria. Visit the Climate Act website for more information about the recently finalized disadvantaged communities criteria and for information on the Climate Justice Working Group.
New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan
New York State's nation-leading climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues fostering a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy and energy efficiency investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation's most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century.
A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $35 billion in 120 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.8 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 165,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2021 and a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold in the State be zero-emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York's climate action with nearly 400 registered and more than 100 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State's largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state to help target air pollution and combat climate change.