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In recognition of the negative effects of climate change locally and globally, and to establish climate resilience in solidarity with the recommendations and steps taken by numerous organizations and governments over the past decades, the New Rochelle City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to declare a climate emergency, calling for "an immediate emergency mobilization to restore a safe climate." View Resolution.
New Rochelle is the first city in Westchester to declare a climate emergency, with a large focus on equity and justice, and commitment to keeping the concerns of frontline and marginalized communities central to all sustainability program planning processes and to inviting and encouraging such communities to actively participate in the development and implementation of all climate mobilization efforts.
The resolution recognizes inequities caused by climate change, reaffirms the City's commitment to environmental sustainability and outlines a course of action that builds on established programs. In 2011 the City adopted GreeNR, a twenty-year sustainability plan, and in subsequent years created two advisory committees to advance the plan's goals and increase public participation in climate and energy programs: the Ecology and Natural Resources Advisory Committee (ENRAC) and the Energy Conservation Committee. The City was also among the initial participants in Westchester Power, a community choice aggregation program, and has invested in natural resources and reduction of fossil fuels. Last month, the City created a Sustainability Coordinator position and adopted the NYStretch Energy Code.
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The resolution calls for a series of high-impact actions, including the creation of a City Task Force on Climate and Equity and a review of ways to accelerate achievement goals to meet New York State's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. In July 2019, Governor Cuomo signed the Climate Act into law, requiring New York to reduce economywide greenhouse gas emissions over time and achieve 100 zero-emission electricity by 2040 and carbon neutrality by 2050.
"Every city should be taking steps to mitigate climate change and prepare for extreme weather impacts, which we are already experiencing," said City Council Member Sara Kaye, sponsor of the legislation. "We also recognize that we must focus more intently on climate justice to ensure that environmental progress benefits our entire community. By working to build a cleaner and more resilient, equitable, and just future, New Rochelle will continue to lead the way along with other forward-thinking cities around the world."
"The City of New Rochelle Climate Emergency Declaration, which aligns New Rochelle with the State's climate goals while centering climate justice, is both an act of municipal climate leadership and a necessary step towards ensuring that our communities can equitably grow and thrive. I wish to thank and commend Councilwoman Kaye for championing this important declaration," said NYS Climate Action Council and ENRAC member Raya Salter, Esq.,
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Paul Presendieu, co-chair of the Advisory Committee on Energy Conservation, said, "The City of New Rochelle's Advisory Committee on Energy Conservation is proud to support the declaration of a Climate Emergency. Climate change will threaten the lives of all New Rochelle residents regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. We are proud to have municipal leadership who understand the threat of our climate crisis, and are willing to work with residents to curb our carbon emissions in compliance with the goals of New York State and the United Nations. Thank you Mayor Bramson and Councilwoman Sara Kaye for your leadership."
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