In 2019, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”) into law. The CLCPA sets ambitious mandates for the state to decrease greenhouse gases and expand renewable energy capacity. The statute also acknowledges the outsized health and socioeconomic burden borne by communities historically and currently impacted by disproportionate environmental pollution and adverse effects of climate change. The CLCPA aims to address this disparity by, among other things, prioritizing public investment in the most overburdened communities. Specifically, the law requires that these communities receive no less than 35% of the benefits of spending on clean energy and energy efficiency programs, and sets a target of allocating 40% of spending to these overburdened communities.


A new white paper discusses questions that New York must grapple with in implementing the CLCPA’s investment mandate, including how to define and quantify “benefits,” the concerns and critiques of environmental justice advocates, and where the process stands today. Understanding New York’s implementation of the CLCPA’s investment mandate is important not just for New Yorkers; President Biden’s climate plan and proposed legislation call for overly burdened communities to receive 40% of the benefits of federal investments in transitioning to a clean energy economy, and New York’s approach may act as a model. New York’s leadership on tackling climate change, and doing so equitably, is more important than ever.


The white paper’s publication comes two weeks before a panel discussion of environmental justice and the CLCPA hosted by the New York City Bar Association. Read more about the event and register here. The white paper was written by Sabin Center fellow Hillary Aidun and guest authors Julia Li and Antonia Pereira. Read the white paper here and read more about the CLCPA here.


The paper was completed as a service project for the New York City Environmental Law Leadership Institute (NYCELLI). NYCELLI is an annual seminar for a select group of junior environmental attorneys committed to leadership in the field and making a positive contribution to the City’s environment.

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