Earthjustice Sustainable Food and Farming Program Statement: New York State Climate Action Council Final Scoping Plan

While necessary action in reducing emissions from food production and food waste were included in the Final Scoping Plan, transformative strategies such as methane emissions limitations were left on the table


Nydia Gutiérrez, Earthjustice

Yesterday, the New York State Climate Action Council released the Final Scoping Plan aimed at leading the state into reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net-zero emissions, increase renewable energy usage, and ensure climate justice. Following the passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) in 2019, the Final Scoping Plan developed by the Climate Action Council (CAC) includes frameworks and timelines for climate action across various sectors including agriculture, forestry, and organic waste.

The Final Scoping Plan includes strategies to rebuild soil organic carbon stocks on croplands, restore and protect our forests, and reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills.

The following statement is attributed to Peter Lehner, managing attorney for the Sustainable Food and Farming Program at Earthjustice:

“We are heartened to see that the Final Scoping Plan included key strategies to reduce emissions from the food production and food waste systems, including expanded incentives and assistance for farmers to adopt soil health practices on cropland and reduce manure methane emissions and tax incentives for private forest landowners to manage their land for conservation and carbon sequestration.

“We also applaud the Climate Action Council for supporting limits on the use of biogas and removing the proposal to allow carbon sequestration in New York State forests to offset emissions from other sectors.

“However, we are disappointed that key strategies were left out of the Final Scoping Plan, including establishing methane emissions limits on livestock facilities; phasing in fertilizer fees to help fund farmers transitioning to climate-friendly practices; banning winter manure spreading; strategies to reduce herd size, and setting statewide goals for the adoption of climate-friendly practices. Without these key strategies, the Final Scoping Plan is far less effective in reducing emissions from our food production system.

“We look forward to working with the legislature and the governor to enact truly bold and transformative policies in these sectors to achieve the State’s overall climate change mitigation goals.”

This June, Earthjustice and partners filed comments with the CAC detailing how the Agriculture and Forestry sectors provide unique opportunities for climate change mitigation as they impact greenhouse gas sources and sinks. Agricultural activities and forest management for commercial products are both major sources of greenhouse gases, and state governments have numerous tools at their disposal to transform these sectors to help mitigate catastrophic climate change.

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