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For Release: Friday, April 20, 2018

DEC Announces Launch of New Online Portal for Climate Smart Communities Certification

Portal Supports Governor Cuomo's Goal to Reduce Statewide Emissions 40 Percent by 2030

Part of New York's Weeklong Celebration of Earth Day

As part of New York's weeklong celebration of Earth Day, the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the launch of a new certification portal, that streamlines the application process for local governments seeking to become Certified Climate Smart Communities. The Climate Smart Communities Certification program recognizes the leadership local governments have taken to reduce emissions and protect their communities from a changing climate. Local governments are key partners in achieving Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's aggressive goals to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Across the state, New York communities are experiencing the effects of climate change, from rising seas and increased flooding to greater agricultural losses from extreme weather. Thanks to programs like Climate Smart Communities, New York is out in front, building climate resiliency county by county, town by town, and village by village. At Governor Cuomo's direction, DEC is committed to helping local governments, business owners, and residents cut energy use, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and build healthier, more sustainable communities. The Climate Smart Communities certification portal will enable a new level of engagement with local leaders aiming to reduce emissions and protect their communities from climate change."

The certification portal is the latest step in an interagency initiative to provide state support for local climate action. The Climate Smart Communities program is jointly sponsored by six State agencies: DEC; New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Department of Public Service; Department of State; Department of Transportation; and Department of Health. These state agencies provide resources through the portal to help local governments use their land-use powers and leadership position to lower emissions and help their communities adapt to a changing climate. Creation of the portal was possible through funding from NYSERDA.

Alicia Barton, President and CEO of NYSERDA said, "I commend the communities across the state who have taken the Climate Smart Communities pledge to join Governor Cuomo's fight against the threats climate change poses to our environment, infrastructure, and way of life. The program provides municipalities with a vital framework for guiding climate action and also qualifies as one of the ten High Impact Actions communities must take to earn NYSERDA's Clean Energy Community designation, which opens the door to additional grant funding for building more sustainable communities. By working together, New Yorkers are effecting real change by increasing the use of clean energy technologies, reducing energy costs for consumers, and being good environmental stewards for benefit of generations to come."

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "New York State has always been at the forefront of working with communities to combat climate change. We continue to make it easier for local governments and planners to reduce emissions and implement environmentally friendly projects. This portal is an innovative way to bring planners and community leaders on board to further solidify our commitment of stability and longevity for our entire state."

"Despite what many in the current federal administration would like to believe, climate change is real and it is affecting the health of Americans and increasingly endangering the environment we live in. I join Governor Cuomo in encouraging New Yorkers to reduce their carbon footprints and convince their local governments to enroll in the Climate Smart Communities program. This is a fantastic way to show that New York is doing its part to acknowledge and address the threat of climate change for the health and safety of all," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, "Governor Cuomo is leading the way on protecting the environment. We are proud to partner with our sister agencies on this innovative portal, which is making it easier for communities to get credit for their sound environmental practices, helping to build a stronger and more sustainable environment through collaboration and comprehensive planning."

Public Service Commission Chair John B. Rhodes said, "Governor Cuomo has set a nation-leading and ambitious agenda for the State on clean energy and climate change. With Climate Smart Communities we have a great way for communities to drive local action, and achieve local environmental and economic benefits."

Gil C. Quiniones, President and CEO of the New York Power Authority, said, "New York State is already a national leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving climate resilience. This portal will ease the way for local governments who want to push for community action on a wider scale and allow them to be recognized for their efforts. We, at NYPA, have worked with many communities on energy efficiency efforts and we are proud to stand with our other state agencies to continue to provide support and guidance as more municipalities work to become Climate Smart Communities."

Visitors to the portal can determine how their communities are participating in the Climate Smart Communities program via an interactive map that shows the two levels of participation: registered and certified. To be designated a Registered Climate Smart Community, a local government makes a commitment to act by passing a formal resolution that includes the 10-point Climate Smart Communities (CSC) pledge. There are currently 221 registered communities, representing nearly seven million New Yorkers.

To date, 18 local governments have completed the rigorous review process to be designated as Certified Climate Smart Communities. New York State introduced the CSC certification program in 2014 to recognize the leadership of communities that go beyond the CSC pledge to implement and document a suite of actions that mitigate and adapt to climate change at the local level. These communities represent New York's foremost leaders in local climate action. Visitors to the portal can access a searchable database containing the documents that certified communities used to earn points. By making this documentation publicly available, the portal provides details on model projects and inspires others to take action in their communities.

In addition, the portal streamlines the application process for becoming a Certified Climate Smart Community. Local governments may create several user logins for members of their local teams and use the portal to store and organize documentation and estimate expected points. It enables state agencies to add new resources and to inform local governments about the latest funding opportunities and best practices for building resilient, low-emission communities.

Over the past two years, DEC's Climate Smart Communities grants program has awarded approximately $20 million for 37 climate change adaptation and greenhouse gas mitigation projects. DEC has awarded another $1 million to support 26 Climate Smart Community certification projects.

On May 10, DEC will host an informational webinar about the Climate Smart Communities certification portal and recent updates to the program. For information about the webinar, visit DEC's calendar.

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