The chamber where New York state’s Assembly meets. (Matt Wade / CC BY-SA 2.0)

New York’s Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that would require the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from major sources to zero by 2050. But is that good enough?

Thirty-four years is a long time to wait to fully address an emergency as urgent as climate change. A more aggressive bill sponsored by 17 representatives would require the state to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2030. That’s 14 years from now and a full 20 years ahead of the plan just passed, putting the state’s agenda more in line with the more dire predictions of climate scientists.

Eight years passed between President Kennedy’s announcement that Americans would go to the moon and the project’s realization. Surely succeeding generations, New Yorkers among them, have the ingenuity and manpower to transition to clean, renewable energy in fewer than 34 years.

Think Progress’ Natasha Geiling reports of the bill just passed:

The bill seeks to codify into law certain climate goals put forth by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has said in the past that he wants the state to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. In December, Cuomo mandated that the New York Department of Public Service begin establishing a plan to transition to at least 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030. Without making these goals into laws, however, Cuomo’s targets could be reversed by whoever holds the governorship next.

The bill passed Wednesday night by the Assembly — dubbed the Climate and Community Protection Act — would apply to major sources of anthropogenic carbon pollution, such as major electrical producers or large industrial factories, and would regulate the carbon emissions from any industry that emits 25,000 tons or more of greenhouse gases annually or any power plant that is 25 megawatts or larger. The bill also requires New York to hit a set of incremental targets for the percent of electricity generated from renewable sources: 27 percent by next year, 30 percent by 2020, forty percent by 2025, and 50 percent by 2030.

Environmental groups have also praised the bill for its focus on environmental justice. The bill would establish a working group of representatives from the environmental justice community, as well as from certain government agencies, to help guide climate decisions in a way that lessens the burden on low-income and minority communities. The bill also focuses on creating green jobs throughout the state, and especially focuses on creating these jobs in marginalized communities. In fact, the bill mandates that 40 percent of any funds generated from new market schemes set up to help the state reach its renewable energy goals — a carbon market, for instance — must be put back into creating job opportunities or investing in clean energy or energy-efficiency in marginalized communities.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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