Clarke Calls Climate Change The Greatest Existential Threat


U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D- Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Prospect Park, Grand Army Plaza) this week called for an all-hands-on-deck approach to Brooklyn being ready for climate change.

Clarke, the vice-chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Co-Chair of the House Smart Cities Caucus, made her comments at a roundtable discussion she hosted with City Council Member Brad Lander (D-Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington) dubbed “Climate-Resilient Smart Cities,” and held at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza.

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke contributes to the panel discussion. Contributed photo.

“When you examine the facts—not the ‘alternative facts,’ but the real facts—it is clear that climate change is the greatest existential threat we face, and that it is a crisis that requires bold action to transform every sector of our economy. Every person, company, and government body has a role to play,” said Clarke in remarks at the event.

“This summer alone, over 30 thousand Brooklyn residents—many in my District—were left without power for multiple days when extreme heat caused our critical power equipment to fail—despite assurances from Con Edison that they were prepared. Brooklyn’s communities deserve a smart and resilient electric grid that is prepared to meet the threats and demands of the 21st Century,” she added.

Clarke said to address the threat of climate change the House Committee on Energy and Commerce set the ambitious but necessary goal of achieving ‘net-zero’ greenhouse-gas emissions, nationwide, by the year 2050.

“With this goal we will transform every sector of our economy to a clean energy economy that creates jobs, not pollution. We will also strive to put an end to the environmental injustices that have plagued our low-income communities and communities of color—communities that have suffered the greatest burden of climate change and environmental pollution for far too long,” she said.

City Council Member Brad Lander speaks about the importance of the Green New Deal. Contributed photo.

“We must change how we view climate change and instead of just building back what was lost from climate change events [like from Hurricane Sandy], we must plan in advance and build smart.”

The event included a panel discussion Thaddeus Pawlowski from Columbia University’s Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes acting as moderator. Panelists included Ke Wei from the NYC Mayor’s Office of Resiliency and Sustainability, David Armour from Siemens, Natalia Quintero from Transit Tech Lab and William Solecki from CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities.

The panelists discussed and stressed the urgency for action now because the detrimental impact of climate change is affecting communities like central Brooklyn today more than ever.

Clarke also discussed the importance of her bill, the BREATHE Act to close a loophole in the ‘Clean Air Act,’ which for too long has allowed fossil fuel companies to drill and frack for oil and natural gas without regulation of the harmful air pollutants that they release in the process.

The panelists also discussed how Clarke’s  9th Congressional District would benefit from a large-scale mobilization to transition the economy and create new green jobs that pay a living wage.