The mission of the Global Climate Change Committee is to educate lawyers and members of the public about the threat of climate change including the science that explains it and the wide range of legal issues implicated, and to promote the decarbonization of New York State’s economy.

On April 22, 2022, the Committee sponsored its third Earth Day conference featuring scientists and legal experts in the climate change field to address current physical and legal challenges. This annual conference is open to the public. The Committee also continues to sponsor the publication of climate change blogs authored by Committee Co-Chair Carl Howard, which 18 other NYSBA sections have agreed to receive.

On December 30, 2021, the New York Climate Action Council (“CAC”) released for public comment the Draft Scoping Plan required under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”) (the “Draft Scoping Plan” or “DSP”). The DSP is available for review on the CAC website. The CAC is required under the CLCPA to develop and release the final Scoping Plan on or before January 1, 2023.

In response to the publication of the DSP, the Committee’s Co-Chairs reached out to a group of practitioners with particular experience in the sectors of New York’s economy that would be affected by the strategies identified in the Draft Scoping Plan and requested their involvement as comment authors. The following authors contributed their work: Introduction, General Comments, and Transportation: Kevin Healy; Environmental Justice and Just Transition, Jose Almanzar; Waste, Linda Shaw and William Kellermeyer; Buildings and Local Government, Amy Turner; Electricity, Haley Carlock, Gregory Brown and Martin Baker; Industry, Carl Howard; Agriculture and Forestry, Roberta Gordon and Jan Kublick; Economy-Wide Strategies, Stephen Kass; and Land Use, Daniel Riesel. Ginny Robbins took the lead in editing the final comment document.

On June 29, 2022, the Environmental and Energy Law Section (the “Section”) submitted 78 pages of comments on the DSP, available for review here. The Section’s comments noted that the DSP is an important first step toward the roadmap needed to decarbonize the economy of the State of New York over the next three decades. The DSP identifies a host of strategies to reduce emissions from each of the sectors contributing to the carbon load in our State and provides a thoughtful discussion of the benefits that could be achieved through those strategies.

The Section commended the CAC for its diligence in producing the Draft Scoping Plan in the short period required by the CLCPA. However, the Section pointed out that it is important that the final version of the scoping plan focus in greater detail on the specifics of New York’s emissions sources, the feasibility of implementing the preferred mitigation strategies in view of their very substantial costs and complexity, the potential for public opposition if those costs are not allocated equitably (or assumed by the state or federal government), and the lengthy periods likely required to permit the decarbonization of New York’s economy.

The Section provided its comments recognizing how important it is for New York State – a jurisdiction with enormous legal, technical, and economic resources – to succeed in meeting the goals of the CLCPA, and to do so while maintaining a vibrant and growing economy. The Section expressed its hope that its comments will contribute to the success of this critical effort.

Committee Co-Chairs

Prof. Michael B. Gerrard
Joseph Kevin Healy, Esq.
Virginia C. Robbins, Esq.
Carl Howard, Esq.

Committee Roster

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