New York has over 500 miles of coastline which have played a major role in the state’s development and influence. However, these very coastlines that helped define the State are now facing the challenge of climate change.
As climate change continues, threats such as hurricanes are becoming more powerful. New York is no stranger to powerful storms, such as Hurricane Sandy, which caused over $15 billion in damages and displaced thousands of New Yorkers. Additionally, rising sea levels are also putting many neighborhoods at risk of flooding. In order to protect the communities that will be most impacted by climate change, New York created the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) was introduced to the New York State legislature in June 2019 and signed into law by then Governor Cuomo in July 2019. Furthermore, in the New York State 2022 budget, the state has allocated over $4 billion for environmental causes to combat climate change. Furthermore, according to the New York City Council, “New York City also remains committed to the principles of the Paris Agreement, and we have joined together with other cities and countries in a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.”
Despite the attempts by New York to deal with climate change, it may not be possible for New York to deal with climate change on its own as sea levels are set to rise by at least 10 inches on the coast in the next 30 years.
Additionally, many communities are still going to have to deal with the impact of climate change. Professor Clive Belfield, of the Economics department at Queens College, stated that “Communities living on the shore will be flooded much more often — their land values will fall.” Professor Belfield also mentioned that “There are not going to be enough grants to deal with the many climate change problems — there are so many problems (road damage, flood damage, health effects from heat stress…)”, which may show a structural failure in New York’s response to helping these communities.
The legislature should also focus on other ways to help these communities as Professor Belfield states that “NY should invest in heat management strategies: shade, trees, health programs; it should not invest in subsidies for flooded homes.”
The CLCPA and additional state funding have already started to have an impact. According to the Climate Action Council, more than $300 million has been spent on the “Coastal Resiliency Project from Far Rockaway to Neponsit”. Furthermore, an additional $400 million has been spent on water quality improvements on Long Island.
Kyle Daniels is a sophomore at Queens College and lives in Far Rockaway and has seen the impact that climate change has had on his community. Kyle said, “I believe government intervention is needed to deal with the powerful companies that get away with poor environmental policies” in order to keep his community safe. The impact of climate change is being felt in New York, and lawmakers are taking action to protect the state.