New York has some ambitious goals to halt the effects of climate change. But how will we know if the state is meeting them?
Liz Moran, the environmental policy director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, is calling for a dashbaord or scorecard to track progress in the coming years.
The focus this week from the group coincided with a blistering heat wave across many parts of the country.
"Weather and climate are not the same," Moran said. "But climate is patterns. We are seeing a pattern of increased heat waves across the country. So it's very important we act on climate becasue we're seeing the impacts of this now."
The state is acting to curtail the worsening affects of climate change, including a switch to renewable fuels by the middle of this century. But Moran said that in order to stay on track, there should be a clear method for tracking how that is happening.
"Unfortunately, New York state has had a number of renewable energy and climate related goals over the course of its history and it hasn't always met them," she said. "We now have on the books the very important Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goals, which sets into law a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and to be carbon-free electricity by 2040. These are very important goals that are aligned with climate science. But we have to meet them."
Moran's group this week released their own scorecard analyzing energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reduction and offshore wind efforts. It's all a bit technical, but Moran believes it's something state officials can start doing now.
"So New York state should really be providing a metric for the public to track, a dashboard of some kind, that's easily understandable so the public can understand where we are in respect to our climate goals and advocate for the policies we know we need to meet them," she said.
And this will help people become engaged in the process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curtailing the crisis.
"Really, the public is a key tool in making sure the state's feet is held to the fire," Moran said. "If the public understands where we are in respect to our climate goals and has all the information available to them, they can advocate for the policies to have us meet those goals."