By Michelle Deal Winfield
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo both rolled out their vision of how to provide clean energy throughout New York State at a discussion hosted by New York University.
Hundreds attended the event on Friday, which was held at NYU’s Washington Square South Kimmel Center.
Gore, who received thundering applause upon stepping up to the podium, described how New York can help reclaim its environment by reducing fossil fuels. In 2011, 143 countries became involved in Gore’s Climate Reality Project which educates and advocates for climate change. He reiterated how scientifically, it’s known that the use of fossil fuels disrupts the water cycles. The North Pole and Artic regions are spilling out due to increased temperatures. The recent hurricanes are increasing every six months. Gore listed the following suggestions: 1) adding solar panels, 2) wind turbines and 3) the use of electric vehicles.
“And the use of renewal energy will be one fourth of the cost you are paying now,” Gore said. In closing, Gore took the opportunity to praise Cuomo for leading the way by divesting state pension funds away from fossil fuel projects and decreasing its use and eliminating gas drilling known as hydro fracking. “This combination adds up to strong economic growth. Seize the opportunity and stand up for a clean future.”
When it was his turn at the microphone, Cuomo recalled how Gore’s views hadn’t always gotten a great reception.
“When the documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, was shown, many people mocked Al Gore,” Cuomo said. “Al was trying to educate people about global warming. No one believed him. It wasn’t until 2012 during Superstorm Sandy we recognized sections from the film were similar to what happened in New York. In places there was seven feet of water on the West Side highway. In the subways, water filled the entire areas.”
Cuomo also discussed investments New York State has made to promote clean energy and the plan to help of repair for the years of neglect of the waterways. Meanwhile, he also said nationally there is some work to do, considering how the United States has withdrawn from the Paris Accord Agreement.
The Paris Agreement on climate change/mitigation was based on scientific evidence that global greenhouse emissions raise the temperature on the planet and therefore disrupt the water cycles. Cuomo uttered, “Offshore drilling is a dumb idea.” He stressed, “New York will light a candle to illuminate a path to restart an environment movement.”
The chart on the screen next to where Cuomo was speaking indicated billions of dollars will be allocated toward cleaning up the waterways and the environment. Thousands of high paying jobs in the solar industry will replace jobs in the coal field. Cuomo pledged to use 50 percent renewal energy by 2020. Quoting from a Native American proverb, he summed up by saying, “We should leave this planet better than we found it.”
After the presentation, Taffi T. Ayodele, Board of Trustees, NYU, and Richard Kaufman, chairman, who manages the entire energy services including the New York State Department of Public Service, the New York Power Authority, the Long Island Power Authority, and the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) both spoke about the devastating effects of offshore drilling.