3rd Annual Summit Featured Student Organizing and How to Reach New York’s Groundbreaking Climate Goals

After holding events in Rochester in 2017 and Syracuse in 2018, the grassroots Climate Solutions Summit hosted its 3rd event in New Paltz on September 21st. This year’s event, co-sponsored by dozens of organizations and hosted by SUNY New Paltz, brought record breaking turnout with more than 300 attendees. The summit took place during a week of global climate strikes and actions in solidarity with youth school strikes known as “Fridays for our Future” and “School Strike for the Climate.” The summit attracted a large number of students with its special student track of workshops.

The Student Climate Coalition launched at the Climate Solutions Summit.
Student Climate Coalition launch panelist from Greening Forward
ESF student presenting on the Greening Your School panel to student groups from Ellenville High School and Dream Charter School
Senator Jen Metzger with students from Ellenville High School with Go Beyond Greatness and students from NYC’s Dream Charter School. The Student Climate Coalition and Greening Forward are also represented here.

The summit aims to build a larger movement across the northeast that is prepared to take action to implement effective climate solutions. The annual event provides an opportunity for organizers and people from communities across the region to come together to share projects, case studies, resources, experiences and skills to tackle climate change and implement solutions.

Mark Lowery from the Office of Climate Change of the NYSDEC speaking on Scaling Climate Solutions from the Community Up

The summit’s opening panel, entitled, “How to Accomplish New York’s Clean Energy and Climate Goals,” featured State Senator Jen Metzger, First Assistant Secretary for Energy and the Environment to the Governor Amanda Lefton, Executive Director of Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) Anne Reynolds, Ulster County Legislator and Clearwater Environmental Director Manna Jo Greene and Environmental and Advocacy Coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice Stephan Roundtree. See the live streamed opening panel video here.

Stephan Roundtree from WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Manna Jo Greene from Hudson Valley Sloop Clear Water, NYS Senator Jen Metzger, Amanda Lefton from the Governor’s Office, and Anne Reynolds from Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY)

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said, “We must do everything we can to combat the existential threat climate change poses to our communities. Discussions, like those held at the Climate Solutions Summit, are essential in gaining support and finding real solutions to address our climate emergency. Defending and protecting our climate and introducing innovative ways to address the climate crisis is one of my top priorities, and I am eager to continue fighting for a greener future here in Ulster County and beyond.”

Anne Reynolds of the Alliance for Clean Energy stated, “To show leadership on climate change, New York needs to get renewable energy projects built. And the imperative to build wind and solar projects depends on communities welcoming these projects into their towns. It was great to take part in discussions at the Climate Solutions Summit about community support and real solutions for New York.”

Amanda Lefton from the Governor’s Office, and Anne Reynolds from Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) on the Summit Opening Panel

“This excellent and timely Climate Solutions Summit demonstrated unequivocally that the transition to a Renewable Energy Economy with storage and efficiency is not only possible, it is both necessary and powerfully in progress as we speak,” said Manna Jo Greene, Ulster County Legislator and Environmental Director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. “That said,” she continued, “renowned climate scientist, Dr. Michael Mann, cautions that we must stop burning fossil fuel now to be sure that climate solutions can and will be effective. Let’s join together to create a Regional Renewable Energy Implementation Plan as a roadmap to ensure the goals of New York’s ambitious  Climate Leadership and Community Protect Plan (CLCPA) are actually attained by 2030.”

Stephan Roundtree from WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Manna Jo Greene from Hudson Valley Sloop Clear Water on the Summit Opening Panel

The panel’s moderator, Betta Broad, director of New Yorkers for Clean Power that led the Summit organizing said, “We are thrilled to bring together so many people who are committed to climate action and implementing solutions in their own communities. New York State has the opportunity to lead the nation in climate action but it’s going to take all of us to make our goals a reality on the ground. Working together we can do it and it’s not too late.”

The workshops and panels focused on renewable energy technologies like solar and heat pumps, energy efficiency, clean transportation, climate justice, clean energy careers, and organizing in our schools and communities for climate solutions from renewable energy planning to transit-oriented development.

“It was fantastic that the location for the Climate Solutions Summit was held in New Paltz this year because we are making huge strides in our community to become Climate Smart and I found that the summit panels and workshops gave us inspiration for new solutions,”  said Janelle Peotter, the Coordinator for New Paltz Climate Smart.  “It was great to be able to cap the end of the summit with our second annual Zero Emissions Parade showcasing electric vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians only two days before our community leaders do an intensive all day workshop on Complete Streets.”

Welcome and Opening Panel in the Multipurpose Room of SUNY New Paltz

“Housing is the predominant land use in most urbanized areas and also a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.There is a continued need for affordable environmentally friendly housing. Highlighting sustainable strategies to achieve zero-net energy housing will showcase two projects currently under construction in Ulster County to provide needed housing for residents and reduce harm to the environment,” said Guy Kempe, VP for Community Development at RUPCO, Inc.

“As the climate crisis has advanced, so has climate action as an arena of expertise and creativity.  Whether you are a scientist modeling the impact of solutions or an entrepreneur designing battery production facilities, there is a dynamic world of work to be done and it’s growing,” said Melissa Everett, Executive Director of Sustainable Hudson Valley and moderator of the Climate Careers panel.

Melissa Everette from Sustainable Hudson Valley, Sarah Womer from North Star Recycling, and Ashley Knox from Go Beyond Greatness during the Climate Solutions Careers Panel of the student track for this Summit.

“By focusing on solutions,” said Dr. Kathleen Nolan, Research Director at Catskill Mountainkeeper, who attended the conference, “we shift our narratives from grappling with problems to shaping and enlivening our future.” She continued: “As we adopt new behaviors and think more creatively about how to live well in homes, and cars, and businesses powered by renewables like solar and wind and while also generating less waste, we are finding ourselves in closer touch with our families and communities, as well as with our earth itself.”

“To meet the ambitious mandates set forth in New York’s new climate legislation, we need an all hands on deck multi-sector approach to move New York communities, buildings, cities, and businesses towards the future we all want: a decarbonized society that puts people over fossil fuel profits. Governor Cuomo would do well to show up at the Climate Solutions Summit and learn from an amazing list of speakers working on the frontlines of our green energy economy!” Andrew Pezzullo, Hudson Valley organizer at Food and Water Action and Food and Water Watch.

Ashley Knox from Go Beyond Greatness and Cal Trumann from SunCommon during the Climate Solutions Careers Panel of the student track for this Summit.

“2019 is a critical time for climate action, and an exciting time to be doing that work in New York state. Ulster County is a leader in climate policy statewide, and New York is pushing some of the most ambitious action on climate change in the country. Figuring out what works right here in New Paltz and the surrounding area can inform the climate agenda of the whole country, so it’s pretty powerful that this forward-thinking little town is hosting the summit this year.” Cal Trumann, Solar Community Organizer for SunCommon, Hudson Valley-based renewable energy B Corp.

The summit included a green vendor fair, a waste-free and vegan breakfast and lunch, and the second annual Zero Emissions Parade organized by New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, featuring marchers, bikers, and electric vehicles.

Andra Leimanis from Alliance for a Green Economy tabling as a green vendor at the Summit.

The 2019 Climate Solutions Summit was Co-Sponsored by SUNY New Paltz, New Yorkers for Clean Power, ACE NY, Sustainable Hudson Valley, The Climate Reality Project, New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, AGREE NY, New Paltz Climate Smart, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Hudson Valley Regional Council, Food & Water Watch, Catskill Mountainkeeper, SunCommon, RUPCO, Scenic Hudson, Marbletown Environmental Conservation Commission, NYPIRG, Environmental Advocates of NY, and Protecting Our Waters.

Summit Sponsors and Supporters. (Ulster County Executive, Pat Ryan, walking across the stage to contribute welcoming remarks)

More info at www.ClimateSolutionsSummit.org 

Full photo album here