The Covid-19 crisis has changed absolutely everything for all of us. But, as our local communities, New York State, and the nation at large grapple with the implications of this human health and economic crisis, some bedrock truths have not changed: we need clean air, clean water, a stable climate, and justice for all, not only to survive, but to thrive and build a more resilient and sustainable future.
Over the next few weeks, Catskill Mountainkeeper will send a series of emails--entitled Now, More than Ever--exploring how we can work together to fix the broken public and private systems that have failed us and to advance the innovative policies that will drive the kind of systemic change needed to help New York State rebuild smarter and stronger as we recover from the pandemic.
Covid-19 is a crisis; the climate crisis is a catastrophe.
The devastating public health and economic impacts of Covid-19, and the failures in our nation’s response to the pandemic, are a window into the kind of grim future that awaits us unless we take bold action now to slash greenhouse gas emissions, speed the transition to a renewable energy future, and fund more equitable policies.
As a state and a nation, we need to lean hard into implementing climate solutions right now. As Covid-19 exacts a terrible human toll, it’s also given us a stunning glimpse into what the world can look like with sharp reductions in our fossil fuel consumption. Over the past few months, we've seen vastly cleaner skies in air pollution hot spots around the world, drastic reductions in climate-destroying greenhouse gas emissions, and regenerated wild places. But if we don't enact policies to drive down emissions even in "normal" times, these gains will be immediately lost.
In this sense, the pandemic is a powerful call to action in the broader climate fight--we must continue our essential work to shift our economy away from fossil fuel extraction and consumption, and encourage patterns of conservation and investment in renewable energy that will deliver the clean and just energy future we all need and deserve.
New York has climate solutions--it’s time to ramp up.
Last year New York State passed the strongest climate law in the nation--the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). You worked with Mountainkeeper and our allies to achieve this monumental victory, and this effort would not have been successful without your tireless advocacy and support. The law mandates a schedule of greenhouse gas emission reductions, a timeline for transitioning to 100% renewable energy production, and lays out a path for investing in climate solutions more equitably.
We know that Covid-19 is hitting black, brown, indigenous, and low-income communities harder because decades of environmental racism and policies that favor the rich have exposed them to health and economic disparities that make them more vulnerable. These same frontline communities will also bear the brunt of the climate crisis unless we act now.
As our leaders contemplate when and how to restart the economy, it’s critical that they do so with climate solutions and climate justice placed front and center in all recovery plans, policies, and funding proposals. It’s time to double down on implementing the CLCPA.
We cannot go back to ‘business as usual.’’ We need to rebuild our energy systems in a clean and renewable way and shut down the fossil fuel power plants that put people at even greater risk for Covid-19 and other diseases by spewing toxic pollution into the air and water.
We must hold our leaders accountable and ensure that Covid-19 stimulus funding supports clean energy and climate justice initiatives, and those programs that grow good, green jobs. Mountainkeeper is a founding member of NY Renews--a coalition of over 200 labor, environmental justice, religious, health, and environmental organizations fighting for policies and initiatives to build the equitable, renewable future we need and deserve. We’re working with the coalition to implement the CLCPA, ensure robust funding for climate solutions and climate justice, and watchdog the state as it moves forward with this landmark law.
Local is better.
Our world has become a bit smaller as we’ve all slowed down and stayed at home, and the experience has underscored the importance of the local and regional economies that sustain us. This pause has been an opportunity for people to re-evaluate what’s most important and think about what’s no longer serving our communities’ interests or needs. As we rebuild, we need to focus on supporting the farmers, markets, merchants, and businesses that sustainably create wealth in our communities. We need stimulus funding for family farms. We need investment in food hubs that connect local farmers to local markets.
Mountainkeeper supports and grows these regional and local systems through our Food & Farms program. This year, we’re again bringing you the Liberty Farmers Market. We’re working with state and local officials to safely open the market on May 29 behind the Main Street Stage in LaPolt Park in the town of Liberty--a food desert. The Market participates in food assistance programs--including SNAP, WIC, and FMNP--and brings together local vegetable, meat, and craft producers to provide the best of what the Catskills has to offer.
Stay tuned, keep in touch.
Stay tuned for the second email in this Now, More than Ever series, which will focus on Covid-19 stimulus, building regional economies, and supporting local food systems.
Until then, stay safe and keep in touch. You'll find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where we're sharing the info and news that matters most. Thank you for all you do to help Mountainkeeper fight for a better and more sustainable future centered around health, justice, and the integrity of our natural resources and wild places.