New York plays a central role in the simultaneous crises of ecological collapse and financial speculation. This is a city whose wealth was built on a finance capitalism funded by the accumulated profits from slavery and the exploitation of “free” labor as well as the land expropriation and resource extraction that continues today at places like Standing Rock. But as increasing financial and property speculation threatens to displace and impoverish millions of New Yorkers and deepen the contradictions of an unequal and oligarchic society, continuing government austerity threatens the viability of public institutions on which working-class people depend. As an urban environment built partly on tidal estuaries and marshlands, New York City neighborhoods from the Rockaways to the South Bronx are also especially vulnerable to climate change: more than three million New Yorkers live in areas at risk of not only flooding but disappearing below the rising tide.
The recent International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warns that to limit global warming below 1.5 degrees C (2.7F)—a threshold of disaster—we must act within the next 12 years. It demands we transform the economic and political system [that has prevented effective collaboration and the impoverishment that has led to the rise of the global right and eco-fascist responses, as well as mass migration].
We must solve crises of climate change and inequality together for a solution that meets the scale of the crisis. We demand an ecosocialist Green New Deal with immediate steps for decarbonization in New York. We demand a Green New Deal that centers working-class and frontline communities in a just transition; prioritizes public control over our resources; reimagines the public sphere; decommodifies survival by guaranteeing living wages, housing, transit, food, energy, and other necessities for all; and is funded by a large-scale redistribution of wealth from the worst polluters and exploiters through socialized finance and taxes on the rich.
As our 20th century predecessors proved, it is possible to build institutions of social democracy and equality through workplace and community struggles. In an ecological crisis caused by capitalism, we can address climate change and build political power from below by democratizing public ownership and social and worker control over utilities and banks. We can prevent and respond to disasters by building independent organizations and having frontline communities and workers lead a just transition from fossil fuels. We can rebuild sustainable ecological commons and a society based on human need rather than endless and unsustainable material growth. In responding to these challenges, we can address not only our immediate and existential crises but, finally, the debts that New York , especially Wall Street, owes to its people and to the world.
Our city sits in an epicenter of ecological collapse and financial capitalism as the climate crisis unfolds, a city whose wealth was built on both the accumulated profits of “free” and slave labor and forcible extraction of fossil fuel. New York has a history of institutional racism, confining people of color as well as immigrants to inferior and polluted housing, jobs, and education, a history of bureaucratic megaprojects destroying communities, but also a history of labor and social justice struggle, resistance, and creation of public goods, notably the great parks designed as democratic oases. Today, working-class neighborhoods in New York City, from the Rockaways to the South Bronx, are especially vulnerable to displacement from both speculation and climate change, with more than three million New Yorkers living in areas at risk of flooding and eventually disappearing below the rising tide.
The recent International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warns that to limit global warming below 1.5 degrees, the threshold of disaster, we need rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. Failed austerity policies that weaken working-class institutions and sharpen oppressions under the capitalist regime offer nothing in the way of solutions and have only aided the rise of the global right and eco-fascist responses. As socialists, we know the climate crisis will shape the political context in which all other politics unfolds, threatening social solidarity and exacerbating environmental injustices such as racism and xenophobia. We know we must solve the dual crises of climate disaster and runaway inequality together.
We demand an ecosocialist Green New Deal in pursuit of a world free of fossil fuels—one that centers working-class communities on the frontlines of climate change, decommodifies survival, wrests our energy systems and resources from capitalist control, and ultimately reimagines a vibrant, democratic, and ecologically sustainable public sphere. We can simultaneously prevent and respond to increasing natural and social disasters by building independent organizations and having frontline communities and workers lead a just transition from fossil fuels. The fight for a just and ecologically sustainable society and commons is inextricable from the broader socialist movement to replace capitalism, and ecosocialism must be at the forefront for socialism to prevail.
Fully Decarbonize New York State
Prioritize solutions that meet the scale of the climate crisis by transforming all carbon-intensive sectors of the economy to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions at the source.
Commit to 100% clean, renewable energy — sources such as offshore wind, solar, and geothermal — in New York by 2030 through direct city and state funding and new financial institutions in order to develop infrastructure owned and governed by the public and frontline communities as part of a just energy transition.
Prohibit all new fossil fuel infrastructure in New York, including pipelines, compressor stations, and gas turbines.
Expand existing public food programs and municipal food purchasing and ensure purchases are from farms that protect farmworkers rights and utilize regenerative and sustainable practices, including in urban farms, and eliminate food waste, all to decarbonize and ensure access to healthy food.
Democratize Control Over Major Energy Systems and Resources
Ensure that power is affordable for all by supporting worker or community-owned and administered generation, distribution, and transmission systems.
Increase funding, and eliminate procedural and substantive rate-structure barriers to alternate forms of generation such as distributed generation, solar and wind co-ops, and community choice aggregation.
Institute public control over energy supply lines, prohibit new fossil fuel generation facilities and develop all with renewable energy generation in the public and cooperative sectors.
As we phase out fossil fuels, protect workers currently in the fossil fuel industry by providing job transition programs to industries such as the reconstruction of obsolete water pipelines, retraining and income security.
Transform the New York Power Authority to permit it to directly own abundant renewable generation and sell it to a larger customer base as well as allow public takeover, with a democratically accountable structure.
Invest in public parks and community gardens, end their privatization, and vastly expand and protect public forests and wildlife preserves as commons that increase green space, preserve ecosystems, and enable nature carbon capture.
Democratize local and regional planning by providing public investment and instituting ownership within existing communities in order to protect the land and infrastructure, operate efficient and affordable energy and water utilities, maintain light-industrial capacity and control over the productive process, and reverse spatial inequality.
Transit as a Public Good
Guarantee a right to free, clean, quality public transportation by fully funding, repairing and expanding the deteriorating New York public transit system and ultimately abolishing fares. Expansions should prioritize service into underserved communities, including bus rapid transit and light rail, and unify transit and payment systems.
Vastly expand low-carbon transit options in New York including publicly owned, electric buses, trolleys , commuter rail, and bike-sharing as well as e-bikes and scooters. Limit the use of rideshare programs that flout worker rights and city regulations. Protect bike lanes in all areas of New York and build tunnels for passenger transportation and to increase freight-rail capacity.
Allow New York City home-rule over the New York City subway and other core instrumentalities.
Expand transit-oriented development and mixed-use zoning to make neighborhoods safer, more sustainable in terms of energy and natural environment, walkable and bikeable, minimize car usage, maximize safety, limit commutes, and enhance access to jobs and recreation.
Decarbonize transportation and reduce car dependence by fully funding, expanding, and repairing New York’s freight rail and transit systems, reducing and ultimately abolishing fares. Every New Yorker should have a right to free transportation that is fast, safe, convenient, and sustainable.
A Green New Deal for Housing
Decarbonize all existing housing in New York City and New York State through retrofits and efficiency upgrades, including windows, green roofs, and community-owned solar and geothermal heating and cooling, without allowing landlords to pass the cost onto tenants. Fully fund public and social housing to allow residents to have the right to clean and affordable energy.
Require all new buildings to be net-zero carbon emissions by strict building codes and technical support to propagate best practices.
Prohibit development in New York evacuation zone floodplains and ad-hoc technological fixes to rising tides, ensuring the preservation of wetlands and ecosystems. Work cooperatively with public housing residents and frontline communities in emergency relocations and jobs programs and permit them to democratically decide on a plan for managed retreat for our waterfronts.
Build climate resilience measures such as hardened, raised architecture or expansion of wetlands, shores, and natural infrastructure around vulnerable areas, not just valuable real estate. Ensure prevailing wage labor standards, community benefit agreements, and project labor agreements for the construction and maintenance of these resiliency projects.
Expand light industrial and urban planning and transit-oriented development and mixed-use zoning to make neighborhoods safer, more sustainable in terms of energy and natural environment, walkable and bikeable, minimize car usage, maximize safety, limit commutes, and enhance access to jobs and recreation.
Ensure a Just Transition for Communities and Workers
Ensure a just transition that is led and controlled by underpaid, overpolluted, and vulnerable coastal, working-class, and minority communities.
Recognize the sovereignty of indigenous communities regarding new green infrastructure projects.
Address disparate placement of polluting sources, including through targeted cleanup efforts, that cause environmental injustices in transit, generation and waste facilities, and housing to meet the demand of clean air, water, and soil for all.
Welcome climate refugees by expanding protections for immigrants in our communities and achieving true sanctuary city status for New York City, including an end to detentions and deportations.
Expand existing public food programs and municipal food purchasing and ensure purchases are from farms that protect farmworkers rights and utilize regenerative and sustainable practices, including in urban farms. End food deserts in low income communities and ensure access to healthy fresh food
Transform and municipalize waste disposal by requiring composting and recycling, minimizing food waste by ensuring it is either redistributed or composted, and prohibiting single use plastics.
Facilitate a network of local mutual aid and disaster relief committees to respond directly to the increasing frequency of climate-driven disasters and build local political power and responses.
Ensure disaster relief efforts prioritize the most vulnerable communities, are not means tested, and do not require citizenship checks. Where possible, ensure access to services are streamlined and actively disseminate information on how to apply for aid to frontline communities.
Enshrine in NYS and NYC law and constitution the rights of nature (including natural formations such as rivers), human rights to a healthy environment , and the common trust and other environmental doctrines and ensure that government and citizens can enforce those rights and obtain damages, injunctive relief, and penalties for willful misconduct.
Ensure environmental hazards caused by flooding such as sewage overflow and mold are mitigated as soon as possible. Improve wastewater treatment systems and create more rain gardens and permeable open spaces to minimize flooding and sewage overflow in frontline communities.
Democratize local and regional planning by providing public investment and instituting ownership within existing communities in order to protect the land and infrastructure, operate efficient and affordable energy, water, and sewage utilities, maintain light-industrial capacity and control over the productive process, and reverse spatial inequality.
Enshrine the rights of nature (including natural formations such as rivers), human rights to a healthy environment, and the common trust and other environmental doctrines and ensure that government and citizens can enforce those rights and obtain damages, injunctive relief, and penalties for willful misconduct.
Redistribute Resources from Big Polluters and Exploiters
Fully and rapidly divest city and statewide public pensions from fossil fuel companies.
Reinvest funds in clean energy infrastructure projects, including windmills in New York Harbor and the Rockaways and around the state; solar power; and climate resilience measures.
Initiate municipal public banks, create state public banks, develop loan facilities, institute social wealth funds from existing public revenue and public pension investments, fund credit unions, reinstate postal savings banks, and protect and collectively manage a natural resource and technological commons.
Fully divest city and state public pensions from fossil fuel companies and public tax money and resources from private banks.
Replace property taxation with a land value tax and [r]einvest the value of land, locational premiums, and commensurate increases in value to funds in green infrastructure projects.