Central New York and Syracuse are looking to expand local solutions to climate change by holding a summit on Saturday about the topic. Advocates say the issue is largely neglected on the national level, but state and local officials are trying to change that narrative. Climate Solutions Summit organizer Renee Vogelsang says there are reasons to be optimistic.
"The federal government is really asleep at the wheel when it comes to taking serious action on climate change," said Vogelsang. "But that said we have more support and funding, strong goals coming from governor Cuomo and his administration."
Some of them include having half of the state’s electricity come from clean energy by 2030 and significantly reducing greenhouse emissions. Cities can provide a base to achieve those objectives. Sustainability strategist Yusuf Abdul-Qadir says Syracuse is in a good position to do so.
"The beauty is cities are at the center of solutions," said Abdul-Qadir. "Cities have a unique opportunity and cities like Syracuse that have already made a commitment to more sustainability are at the forefront of being able to optimize the opportunities that exist for the communities for entrepreneurs for cutting costs across different sectors of both public and private organizations."
People like Abdul-Qadir will have support from the local government. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh says the city is doing things like changing street lights to LED, backing several solar initiatives and making buildings more energy efficient. He’s also making the city greener for transportation.
"It’s the way of the future," said Walsh. "It’s the way the industry is going. If we want to be a modern progressive city, we need to make sure we have the appropriate infrastructure to support electric vehicles."
The Climate Solution Summit will be held this Saturday at Folwer High School from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can still register for the event online at climatesolutionssummit.org. WAER news director Chris Bolt is part of a panel on climate change in the media. Last year’s summit had more than 200 people and Vogelsang is looking for similar results this time around.