Tom Hayden :
Marching for a green economy ‘built to last’

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, calling it ‘a moral imperative.’

climate march figures

From left, Jane Goodall, former Vice President Al Gore, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon march in Sunday’s climate march in New York City. Photo from Getty Images / The Democracy Journal.

By Tom Hayden | The Rag Blog | September 24, 2014

NEW YORK — With hundreds of thousands of marchers converging on the United Nations climate summit, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio took the opportunity to declare a massive initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, calling it “a moral imperative.”

The 111-page plan, called One City: Built to Last, was strongly supported by the City Council and a diverse network of community-based organizations. Its major focus will be on retrofits of the city’s public and private buildings. In city-owned properties the goal is to cut emissions by 30 percent below 2006 levels in three years.

The New York announcement is consistent with a growing environmental strategy of building a clean energy economy from the bottom in the face of a U.S. Congress dominated by climate deniers.

In a New York Times op-ed September 21 a former U.S. environmental official, Daniel Esty, in a column titled, “Bottom-Up Climate Fix,” endorsed the strategy. He asked, “Why not invite leaders from states, provinces, cities and companies to join representatives of national governments in signing the anticipated 2015 climate change agreement?”

The strategy, piloted for years by California, is rapidly gaining traction due to timelines for greenhouse gas reductions set by the United Nations summit talks planned through 2015. The timelines are pressuring national leaders, including President Obama, to announce goals for measures to prevent an overheated planet by 2050. Taken together, U.S. states now embracing low-carbon energy policies represent 166 million Americans and $7 trillion GDP.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, founded on oil wealth, announced its plan to divest its $890 million from fossil fuel companies.

The UN deadline also prompted the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, founded on oil wealth, to announce its plan to divest its $890 million from fossil fuel companies. Nearly 200 institutions are in the process of divesting from fossil fuels and turning instead to renewable resources.

In the New York City case, a city Climate Action Plan was developed as early as 2006 but the focus of the De Blasio mayoral campaign and his early administration was on economic inequality. The dateline of the UN climate summit energized New York political and community leaders to speed up developing their urban environmental platform to showcase in New York. (Indeed, the announcement was carried on page one of The New York Times.)

The Mayor has long wanted to be “a climate hero,” according to one insider who helped develop the plan, making the climate march and UN summit a perfect context to vault the environmental agenda forward.

Under De Blasio, New York has a major opportunity to fuse the movements against inequality and carbon pollution into one vast laboratory of social change. The effects of pollution fall most heavily on people of color and working class communities, while the activist base of the environmental movement — as demonstrated by the New York march — is overwhelmingly white and young, organized by groups like 350.org and Avaaz.

If New Yorkers and de Blasio can integrate those movements into a strategy of building a clean energy economy, the U.S. will begin to restore credibility at the UN climate talks scheduled for Lima in late November. The demand of Third World countries is for a green infrastructure bank to cope with the ravages of climate change and develop along sustainable lines.

Read more of Tom Hayden’s writing on The Rag Blog.

[Tom Hayden, a regular contributor to The Rag Blog, was an early and outspoken critic of the War in Vietnam. Tom, who served in the California Legislature for nearly two decades, was a leader of Sixties peace, justice, and environmental movements. An enduring progressive voice, Hayden is the author of 20 books, is director of the Peace and Justice Resource center, and is editor of The Democracy Journal.]

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7 Responses to Tom Hayden :
Marching for a green economy ‘built to last’

  1. bobf says:

    NY Green Party’s candidate for governor, Howie Hawkins, seems to be also calling, incidentally, for”100 percent clean renewal energy by 2030″ in NY state, according to following recent press release::
    “New York Needs to Go 100% Clean Renewable Energy by 2030

    “Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said yesterday’s historic march of 400,000 in NYC showed that New Yorkers are fed up with political leaders who are delaying action on climate change.

    “The Green Party was one of the sponsors of the march and had a large contingent, including Hawkins.

    “`Americans understand that we need action now on climate change, even if our Democratic and Republican politicians don’t. New York needs a Governor who will say that fracking for more natural gas is not the answer. We already have a plan by Standard and Cornell professors that shows how New York can go to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 and I pledge to implement it if elected,’ said Hawkins.

    “Hawkins also repeated his call for the state and city to divest worker pension funds from fossil fuel companies that are driving climate change. Hawkins was a leader of the anti-apartheid divestment movement while at Dartmouth.

    “Hawkins said that one way to pay for the transition would be to make Wall Street pay its fair share of taxes. This would include an end to the rebate of the tiny Stock Transfer Tax that New York has collected for more than a century but which in recent decades it to has rebated to Wall Street speculators. Due to the increase volume of trading, especially by computer programs, the tax revenues run between $14 to $16 billion annually.

    “Climate scientists tell us that have at best 15 years to convert to carbon-free energy sources if we are to stop runaway global warming. The technology to build a sustainable, livable world already exits. The sun shines, the wind blows, the waves lap at our shores.

    “`Continued dependence on the 19th century fossil-fueled system will leave us battered by climate change, poisoned by pollution, technologically backward, and economically stagnant. Let’s upgrade to a 21st century renewable energy system, protect the climate, and build a sustainable prosperity,’ added Hawkins.

    “Hawkins said that Cuomo had already fracked New York, allowing the infrastructure of pipelines, storage and processing facilities to move forward while he evaded providing a final answer on extraction. Hawkins in his 2010 race called for a ban on fracking for natural because he knew that expanding the use natural gas was a disaster for the climate. Climate scientists warn us that 80% of the present fossil fuels reserves of coal, oil, and gas must never be burned into greenhouse gases if we are to stop global warming below the tipping point of catastrophic climate change.”

  2. Liz says:

    If you pump the CO2 underground, does that count as a “reduction”??

  3. David MacBryde says:

    Very insightful. In Berlin, Germany there was also a very large, multi-faceted demonstration .
    Here is a picture of a few of us Americans meeting up before the event: <a href=" http://www.avaberlin.org/?p=1354&quot; http://www.avaberlin.org/?p=1354
    The tranansition to open source power is proceeding.
    See: <a href="http://www.theragblog.com/david-macbryde-in-germany-power-grid-to-the-people/&quot; http://www.theragblog.com/david-macbryde-in-germany-power-grid-to-the-people/
    Much happening in Berlin, so much that now the Institute for Creative Sustainability is offering various tours of exemplary projects in Berlin: <a href="http://creative-sustainability-tours-berlin.net&quot; http://creative-sustainability-tours-berlin.net
    with considerable international exchanges.

  4. David MacBryde says:

    Very insightful article ! In Berlin, Germany there was also a very large, multi-faceted demonstration.
    Here is a picture of a few of us Americans meeting up before the event: http://www.avaberlin.org/?p=1354
    The transition to open source power is proceeding.
    For background see: http://www.theragblog.com/david-macbryde-in-germany-power-grid-to-the-people/
    Much happening in Berlin, so much that now the Institute for Creative Sustainability is offering various tours of exemplary projects in Berlin ( http://creative-sustainability-tours-berlin.net ) with considerable international exchanges.

  5. David MacBryde says:

    corrected post below

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