Regional Climate Leadership: From Strategy to Action
To make the transformative changes in our energy system and entire built environment that the climate crisis calls for, people need to understand the nature of the solutions at hand, and have a common road map for taking action. This does not mean one-size-fits-all approaches. In fact, it is an opportunity to re-imagine the ways we want to live and work in our communities. But the first step toward effective action is a shared understanding of the specific paths of change that will reach the climate goals set by New York (and by Mother Nature).
In 2021, Sustainable Hudson Valley brought over 90 experts and advocates together and created a Regional Climate Action Strategy to serve this need. In 2022, we are expanding the partnership substantially and starting implementation.
It looks like a major, long-term strategic partnership among many organizations, businesses, and local governments to build out renewable energy systems, create clean transportation choices, scale up regenerative farming and forestry, conserve and restore water resources and shift the economy of materials use from extractive to circular. It builds on much good work underway, but reorients that work toward new, clear, ambitious goals. It calls for process of community involvement that is unprecedented, that helps neighbors plan together how to make their local environments safer in extreme weather and great places to live every day.
Above all, that process must hold environmental justice as a core commitment, so that planning for the future concretely changes patterns of historic injustice in the use of land and resources in ways that are defined and controlled by impacted communities.
That will not happen all at once. It will not be master-minded by any single group, and needs much wider participation than our network alone. But it can be imagined and guided. We are starting with short-term projects that overcome barriers and build enthusiasm. At the same time, we are planning for the major capital projects and policy campaigns that will also be needed. Our commitment is to build an effective partnership to make the Hudson Valley a leader in slowing and eventually reversing climate change.
A program to help communities identify the sites where renewables make the most sense and don’t compete with other important land uses;
Filling gaps in electric vehicle infrastructure including solar charging capability at commuter stations;
A bike-pedestrian- transit master plan for the region;
Constructing a fleet of solar and sail powered vessels to move people and goods on the Hudson;
Expanded programs to support farming and forestry practices that store carbon;
Projects to build a reuse and recycling economy to replace costly, dirty trucking of waste to landfills;
Providing support in communities that have borne the burden of environmental and economic injustice, to set local priorities for the investments in clean energy and building upgrades that are dedicated under the Climate Act, and in the process create new economic opportunities, build resilience and make neighborhoods great places to live.
All these efforts rely on an educated public and elected officials. We are excited to share the work underway.