Letter Sent to New York City Council on Friday, October 4

Dear Speaker Johnson, 

CC: Committee Chairs (Costa Constantinides, Daniel Dromm, Diana Ayala and Donovan J Richards) 

Lydon Sleeper - Director of the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

Dan Zarilli - Chief Climate Policy Advisor

BCC: All New York City Council Members

We write on behalf of Extinction Rebellion New York to request to meet with you directly and that you join us in supporting demands we will put forward during the October 7 week of climate rebellion to address the climate emergency.

On June 26, New York City declared a Climate Emergency and called for an “immediate emergency mobilization to restore a safe climate.'' Since then, 250,000 of your constituents have taken to the streets to say that not enough is being done. 

We continue to face an ecological crisis caused by climate change, pollution and habitat destruction. A sixth mass species extinction is already underway and our course is set towards societal collapse. The survival of humanity is at stake.

Despite repeated warnings by the world’s leading scientists, governments have failed to act sufficiently in response to this emergency. Carbon dioxide concentrations are now at their highest level in at least 3 million years and continue to rise.

For these reasons, we welcome the Climate Emergency Declaration passed by the Council.   But not enough is being done to act on and follow up with clear, actionable steps to mitigate the issues identified in the declaration.

Extinction Rebellion is a global movement seeking four core demands: The Government must tell the truth, act to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025, convene Citizen’s Assemblies to oversee this urgent action, and undertake a just transition to remediate the disproportionate environmental harms faced by black people, people of color, and poor communities  

Within those, and in adherence with the declared New York City Climate Emergency, we call on you and the New York City Council to:

  1. Invest in and empower real capacity for civic action. We will not succeed without the full engagement and participation of New Yorkers to act immediately through local solutions and mass involvement. The City has advanced the ability to support such action (Civic Engagement Commission, Participatory Budgeting) and should build on that by:

  • Funding a Citizens Assembly with binding power convened by neutral facilitators and overseen by a Citizens Board to co-develop strategies to meet the 2025 net zero carbon goal, including reviewing and revising existing policy, and monitoring progress.

  • Funding “ground game” grassroots organizations in each borough, credible to communities of color, to lead local efforts to identify climate mitigation and adaptation opportunities and directly implement responses.

  1. Providing open data, and additional data as needed, and provide accessible public meeting spaces where the civic sector can convene worksessions to visualize this data in a dashboard to Provide public-access transparency on progress: Create and maintain an open and real-time data dashboard of progress to goals, including those established by civic action.

  • In accordance with Extinction Rebellion’s demand that all governments and media outlets Tell the Truth, our progress on emissions reduction needs to be open, transparent and readily available to all New Yorkers 

  1. Bring all of government to own this crisis

  • Establish a Climate Cabinet comprising all agency Commissioners and chaired by the Mayor, to work with the Citizens Assembly to look at systemic changes that must occur. All agencies should be part of getting to zero-emissions by 2025, aggressively advancing sustainable strategies, and getting NYC on a path to end fossil fuel use.

We no longer have the luxury of the current way of doing business and implementing change  to address this crisis. As UN Secretary General António Guterres said last October, “climate change is running faster than we are - and we are running out of time.” Our call for greater public participation and ownership recognizes the urgency, scale, and nature of a realistic response.   

As the largest city in the country, New York has a unique responsibility and an opportunity to lead the way on climate action. We can take the necessary steps to reach net zero emissions but to do so, we have to act now

That is why Extinction Rebellion New York is joining the International Rebellion. We are taking to the streets and peacefully occupying public spaces in protest because while time is running out, Government is not doing enough. Business is not doing enough.

We can no longer afford business as usual. We call on you to join in this public and peaceful protest during the week of October 7th. We cannot wait a moment longer, it is time for one and all to join in the International Rebellion. Join us in Washington Square Park starting Monday, October 7th - 2pm, and become part of a growing movement to address the biggest existential crisis we’ve ever faced. 

Thank you,

Extinction Rebellion New York, Political Strategy Working Group

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