Op-Ed | A New York for all – balancing climate action with community needs


As a public servant, lawyer, and lifelong Sunnyside resident, I’ve dedicated my career to fighting for those often left without a voice. My mission has always been to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Now, as I run for the New York State Assembly, I am committed to bringing this same passion for service and equity to address one of our most pressing challenges: climate change.

Climate change is not a distant threat; it’s a reality affecting our communities today. In Sunnyside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, and Long Island City, chronic flooding endangers the tenants who live there. In Woodside, we mourned the tragic loss of a family to floodwaters during Hurricane Ida. These events are stark reminders of the urgent need for bold action. 

That’s why I fully support the goals of Local Law 97, the landmark initiative requiring large buildings in New York City to significantly reduce their emissions. This law is a crucial step toward our collective goal of decarbonizing our city and combating the climate crisis.

However, as we embark on this necessary journey, we must also acknowledge and address the challenges it presents to our residents. The cost of retrofitting buildings to meet these new standards poses a significant financial burden, particularly for co-op and condo owners, many of whom are middle-class families already feeling the pinch of our city’s affordability crisis. 

That’s why I support the passage of the Growing Resilient & Energy-Efficient NY (GREEN) Buildings Act, a piece of legislation that strikes a balance between our environmental ambitions and the economic realities of New Yorkers. By providing property tax abatements for up to ten years, this act offers a pragmatic solution that encourages property owners to make the necessary upgrades to reduce carbon emissions without placing an undue financial burden on them. The GREEN Buildings Act is not just about reducing emissions; it’s about building a sustainable New York that is accessible to every resident. This cannot be the only green piece of legislation we should push for this session, but it is the most immediate we can enact to help us reach our climate goals sooner rather than later.

Together, we can face the climate crisis head-on, not with fear, but with the courage to enact policies that protect our planet and our people. Let’s work to create a New York for all—a state that leads not just in ambitious climate action, but in compassionate, community-focused solutions that leave no one behind.

Johanna Carmona is a public servant, lawyer, and community leader running to represent Sunnyside and surrounding neighborhoods in the New York State Assembly.