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
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 23 local governments to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The nearly two dozen municipalities successfully met the criteria to be certified in the 2023 third quarter review, the largest number of certified communities from any one round in the program’s history. Included in this round of certification awards are four communities that have continued their commitment to local climate action and re-certified by completing additional actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
“New York State applauds the work of local communities facing the climate crisis head on through the implementation of policies and plans that benefit local residents, create green jobs, and help build a stronger, more resilient Empire State,” Governor Hochul said. “It is crucial to do everything we can to combat climate change, and I thank my partners not only in the state, but in our neighborhoods for making these smart communities a reality. For our children, we must leave the earth better than it was when we inherited it, and with work like this we certainly are.”
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "I’m proud that this year we were able to secure $400 million for the environmental protection fund, to continue funding capital projects that protect the environment and enhance communities across New York State. Our only guaranteed protections are the ones that we secure ourselves, and that’s why grant programs like Climate Smart Communities were created to assist municipalities in implementing these reforms. We have laid out ambitious plans under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and I'd like to congratulate the communities being recognized for their efforts to reach our aggressive goals."
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, 21 communities successfully met the criteria to be newly recognized or re-certified as leaders at the bronze level. Additionally, two municipalities were recertified silver, the highest level of achievement available.
Silver Certified Climate Smart Communities
Tompkins County and the village of Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester County were both recertified silver and have received funding through various grants, including 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.
Tompkins County received a $355,000 Climate Smart Communities grant in 2016 for the county’s food waste transfer station construction as well as Municipal Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Program awards in 2022, 2019, and 2016 for a total of $92,500. Hastings-on-Hudson received ZEV Program awards in 2022, 2021, 2019, and 2017 totaling $43,500. For more information, see the village’s 2022 progress report. An event was held this afternoon to celebrate the recertification and certification of Hastings-on-Hudson and other Westchester communities.
Bronze Certified Climate Smart Communities
New and recertified bronze Climate Smart Communities include the following:
- Village of Catskill (Greene)
- Town of Mamaroneck (Westchester County) – recertified
- City of New Rochelle (Westchester County)
- Town of Olive (Ulster County)
- City of Peekskill (Westchester County)
- Town of Rhinebeck (Dutchess County)
- Town of Rosendale (Ulster County)
- Town of Shandaken (Ulster County)
- Village of Tarrytown (Westchester County)
- Town of Babylon (Suffolk County)
- Town of North Hempstead (Nassau County)
- Town of Irondequoit (Monroe County)
- Town of Lodi (Seneca County)
- City of Plattsburgh (Clinton County)
- Lewis County
- City of Binghamton (Broome County)
- Town of Hector (Schuyler County)
- Village of Montour Falls (Schuyler County) – recertified
Western New York
- Town of Aurora (Erie County)
- Village of Hamburg (Erie County)
- Village of Williamsville (Erie County)
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC commends these local climate leaders and their commitment to actions that promote sustainability, reduce waste, save energy, and increase zero-emission transportation options. These actions, coupled with Governor Hochul’s statewide efforts to reduce emissions and foster an equitable transition to a green future, will advance climate justice and improve the health and quality of life for all New Yorkers. We look forward to continuing to work with our certified Climate Smart Communities and local leaders who are advancing clean energy projects and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to ensure equity and improve quality of life for residents in New York State.”
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “Congratulations to the 23 new Climate Smart Communities leading by example and demonstrating that municipal action through climate projects, electric vehicles, and community solar improve health, sustainability, and resiliency locally and regionally. The communities awarded are also designated or working towards designation in NYSERDA’s Clean Energy Communities program, which supports continued efforts to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency across New York State.”
Assemblymember MaryJane Shimsky said, "Today, I could not be more proud to represent silver-certified Hastings-on-Hudson and bronze-certified Tarrytown — and to live in Westchester County, which has the highest concentration of Climate Smart Communities in New York State. These certifications are the product of multi-year, coordinated efforts among residents and their local leaders, and between those leaders and the State. As last week's historic rainstorm made all too clear, our climate challenges are real and they are dangerous. Addressing them effectively will require an accumulation of victories like these at the local level, and our communities are leading the way."
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, "If anything, these past few days have shown us that climate change is real and impacting us here and now. I am proud to see the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson and Town of Mamaroneck's successful recertification, and I commend the City of New Rochelle, City of Peekskill and Village of Tarrytown for their dedication to mitigating and adapting to climate change. This recognition is not only a milestone in our collective efforts but also a clear indication that we are taking strides towards a more sustainable and resilient future.”
Village of Hastings-on-Hudson Mayor Nicola Armacost said, “Thanks to the DEC for the Climate Smart Communities Program - it has been a critically important guide for participating municipalities that care about doing their part to address climate change and build local resilience. The Climate Smart Communities Program has encouraged us to benchmark ourselves against other municipalities, to learn from them, and in turn to share what we have implemented here in Hastings-on-Hudson.”
For a full list of actions completed by these and the other certified Climate Smart Communities, view their online certification reports found at the Climate Smart Communities website.
Twenty of the certified communities are also designated NYSERDA Clean Energy Communities, while the remaining three are participating communities in the program. Local governments in New York State can use the Clean Energy Communities program to implement clean energy actions, save energy costs, create jobs, and improve the environment. In addition to providing tools, resources, and technical assistance, the program recognizes and rewards leadership for the completion of clean energy projects.
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, 392 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. Each certification is valid for five years. There are now 137 total certified Climate Smart Communities in New York State, 10 silver and 127 bronze. To be certified, communities must demonstrate an active climate change task force that includes residents and municipal representatives. Most certified communities complete greenhouse gas inventories that calculate emissions at the local level and help local leaders identify how best to help New York State meet its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction mandates.
Climate Smart Communities Coordinators
Last year, DEC announced a new initiative, the Climate Smart Communities Coordinators. This program brings together regional partners across the state to serve as technical support providers and strategic planners to guide local governments in the development of successful local climate action initiatives. Climate Smart Communities Coordinators use the certification program as a roadmap for providing technical support to municipalities to help reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, build resilience to climate change, and thrive in the new green economy.
Municipalities can learn more and connect with the Climate Smart Communities Coordinator for their region by visiting the DEC website.
DEC Climate Smart Communities Funding Programs
Last May, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that $14 million is available through the Climate Smart Communities Grant program. Thirteen of the communities certified today received funding through the DEC Climate Smart Communities Grant program – Catskill, Hamburg, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irondequoit, Lodi, Mamaroneck, Montour Falls, New Rochelle, Peekskill, Rhinebeck, Rosendale, Tompkins County, and Williamsville. 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 more information on the Climate Smart Communities Grant Program and other funding opportunities, visit DEC's website.
The announcement today builds upon significant announcements Governor Hochul made to celebrate Climate Week earlier this month. The Governor announced the start of construction on the converter station for the 339-Mile Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line – paving the way for the first-ever transformation of a fossil fuel site into a grid-scale zero-emission facility in New York City. Once completed, the state-of-the-art facility will convert 1,250 megawatts of clean energy from direct current to alternating current power that will be fed directly into the City’s power grid. Governor Hochul also announced over $13.8 million has been awarded to 33 projects across the state through the State’s Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program. The funding supports agricultural water quality conservation projects, which will benefit 80 farms, enhance water quality in priority watersheds, and protect the environment. Last week, Governor Hochul announced $100 million will be made available on a statewide basis for zero-emission school buses in the first round of funding available for these buses under the historic $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022. By utilizing this funding, school districts and bus operators statewide will be able to phase out fossil fuel buses, curb emissions, and make zero-emission buses more affordable.
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 to foster 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 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, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $2 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 over 3,000 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 130 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.