To the editor:
My son was born on the day President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol. It’s a date seared into my brain.
He’s 16 now, and since then, the world has made enormous progress on climate action, in part, because states governed by Republicans and Democrats alike help fill the void. They started to cut carbon emissions and support renewable energy with programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
As a result, they moved markets and cleaned our air.
Reneging on the Paris climate agreement is not President Trump’s first attack on our lungs, and it won’t be the last. Still, the president cannot stop the progress that is happening. California is on track to wean itself off fossil fuels entirely by 2050. New York City is acting on an economy-wide plan focused on transportation and buildings.
No one is positioned to make a more meaningful impact than Gov. Cuomo — his decisions benefit a vast and diverse state, and unlike California, he already banned fracking. He’s opened the door to offshore wind, and can set a new standard for justice by investing in frontline communities bearing the brunt of climate change.
Unfortunately, as bold as many of Gov. Cuomo’s commitments have been, they are equally fragile as they can be undone by a future administration. What’s happening in Washington cannot happen in New York, which is why we need the governor’s commitments set into law.
When any country, particularly one that pollutes as much per capita as the United States, reneges on its commitments, it reflects poorly on all of us. But far worse, it means that our government is willfully making the choice to endanger lives.
Today, someone in New York State became parents. Like me, they heard today’s news and are worried about their child’s future. And once again, Americans are looking to state leaders to step up and show their mettle.
That should be Gov. Cuomo.
The author is executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York.