“Just Transition” Working Group and Multi-Sector Advisory Panels Will Help Inform Equitable Transition for New York’s Workforce to Clean Energy Future

August 25, 2020

The Climate Action Council, co-chaired by State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and Acting President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Doreen Harris, announced the appointment of members to the Just Transition Working Group and six Advisory Panels that will advise the Council, a 22-member committee that will prepare a Scoping Plan to achieve the State’s bold clean energy and climate agenda as outlined in the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Based on the latest climate science, the CLCPA sets targets that are among the most rigorous of any major economy in the world. The Just Transition Working Group and six advisory panels were approved at the Aug. 24, 2020, Climate Action Council meeting. The Advisory Panels, which represent key economic sectors, are tasked with providing recommendations to the Climate Action Council as it designs a strategic plan to transform New York’s economy, create new jobs, and stimulate industry and innovation, while building more resilient communities to better protect all New Yorkers. The Just Transition Working Group will help to ensure New York’s workforce is prepared for and stands to benefit from the State’s transition to renewable energy.

The Climate Action Council will solicit critical input from the Advisory Panels. The panels are comprised of representatives from public, private, academic, environmental, and community groups that cover six different economic sectors: Agriculture and Forestry; Energy Intensive and Trade-Exposed Industries; Housing and Energy Efficiency; Land Use and Local Government; Power Generation; and Transportation. The panels will make recommendations to the Climate Action Council based on input from stakeholders and communities to achieve the ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets set forth in the law.

Co-Chaired by Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon and NYSERDA Acting President and CEO Doreen Harris, the Just Transition Working Group includes representatives from labor organizations and environmental justice communities, impacted industries, and renewable energy developers. The Working Group will help to ensure an equitable transition for New York’s workforce toward the State’s renewable energy future and will develop a forward-looking jobs report, identify workforce training needs, and assess opportunities to put former power plant sites to productive use.

DEC Commissioner Seggos said, “While the federal government dithers on climate change, Governor Cuomo is showing real leadership on one of the defining issues of our time. The only way to truly combat climate change and achieve New York’s game-changing goals is to engage with a broad range of stakeholders to across the state. The members of the Just Transition Working Group and Advisory Panels represent the diversity of our great state, with leaders from communities of color, labor, industry, government, agriculture, environment, housing, and academia. All New Yorkers must help guide a just transition to a cleaner energy future. We’ve already seen the devastating effects of climate change. We are committed to putting thousands of people back to work in clean jobs and ensuring that all of our communities, particularly those most at risk from climate change, stand to benefit from New York’s transition to a greener future.”

Doreen M. Harris, Acting President and CEO, NYSERDA, said, “The knowledge and expertise of the Just Transition Working Group and Advisory Panels members will serve a critical role in providing the significant and comprehensive thoughts and recommendations that will be considered in developing and achieving New York’s roadmap to a carbon neutral future. I look forward to working with the Climate Action Council to provide the foundation to empower our diverse communities across the state to actively take a role in achieving the State’s ambitious climate goals while ensuring all New Yorkers including those in underserved communities, benefit with good paying jobs and clean, affordable energy from New York’s burgeoning green economy.”

Visit climate.ny.gov/advisory-panel for the lists of Advisory Panel members and members of the Just Transition Working Group.

In 2019, Governor Cuomo signed the CLCPA, the most ambitious climate and clean energy legislation in the country. The CLCPA requires the State to achieve a zero-emission electricity system by 2040 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050, setting a new standard for states and the nation to expedite the transition to a clean energy economy. The law drives investment in clean energy solutions such as wind, solar, energy efficiency and energy storage and ensures that at least 35 percent of the benefits from clean energy investments are realized by disadvantaged and low-to-moderate income communities. The CLCPA calls for an equitable and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State Builds Back Better as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the CLCPA, New York is on a path to reach its goals of economy wide carbon neutrality and achieving a zero-emissions electricity sector by 2040, faster than any other state. It builds on New York's unprecedented ramp-up of clean energy including a $3.9 billion investment in 67 large-scale renewable projects across the state since 2017; sustained progress through the recent launch of the largest combined solicitations for renewable energy ever issued in the U.S. seeking up to 2,500 additional megawatts of offshore wind and over 1,500 megawatts of land-based renewable energy; the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector; a commitment to develop over 1,800 megawatts of offshore wind by 2024; 1,800 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011; efforts to expand and update the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, increase funding and access to clean energy for low- and moderate-income families; a commitment to electrify buses and trucks; and accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, including $206 million of $701 million allocated for building electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure in disadvantaged communities announced by the Governor just last month.