What more do we want? Be Bolder. Be More Ambitious.

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Whether you think America is great, was never great or will be great again, leadership matters. We measure that leadership, not by words, but by action.

Here in New York, we experienced firsthand what it means to be impacted by climate change when Superstorm Sandy hit the eastern seaboard. It changed families. It changed our neighborhoods. It changed our communities. For New York, it changed everything. It woke us up to the reality of what it is to live in a climate-changed world. It galvanized people to push our leaders to take decisive action – Governor Andrew Cuomo banned fracking in 2014 and has (repeatedly) committed to phasing out coal plants. Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken New York City to the forefront of city leadership by calling for the pension funds to divest from fossil fuels and suing the five biggest oil companies to hold them accountable for keeping us on this destructive path. All of these actions are important, even groundbreaking. In many ways, New York has been at the forefront of climate leadership.

For those elected officials who say, we’ve already done so much, what more do you want? We say, it’s nowhere near enough. Climate change is no longer an abstract concept that will happen in the future. We have reached the tipping points. Smoke from the largest wildfires California has ever seen are making it hard for people hundreds of miles away to breathe. On the East Coast, doctors are on high alert for vector-borne diseases like Lyme and West Nile virus, as tick and mosquito populations spread unabated in our warmer and wetter seasons. And, heat waves after heat waves are becoming increasingly difficult to cope with, especially for the elderly, children, people with ongoing health conditions, and those who cannot afford an air conditioner or the electricity to keep it running. Climate change is here now, and we must be bold and visionary. Our actions must be transformative. We need to remake the world away from fossil fuels and all that currently depends on them - energy, jobs, and the economy, to a world that is sustainable, healthy, and equitable.

Over the past week, the Rise NY coalition, now over 85 organizations, representing environmental justice, community, and labor groups, delivered letters to Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio asking each of them to commit to move beyond words and take bold steps to achieve the following:

1. A just transition to 100% renewable energy now.

2. Halt to all fossil fuel infrastructure.

3. To make corporate polluters pay for climate destruction.

The demands are widely supported, as demonstrated by our growing coalition, and are rooted in principles of equity and justice. Most importantly, if met, they will demonstrate the kind of actions and leadership needed to transform the world from one in a climate crisis to a more just and sustainable world ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in California. And, to push our elected officials to take those steps, on September 6th, 7th, and 8th New Yorkers will Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice. Join us.

Denise Patel