Nassau County is now the newest participant in the state’s Climate Smart Communities Program after legislation was signed by County Executive Laura Curran on Tuesday.
Curran was joined by state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, Deputy County Executive Adrienne Esposito, and climate change activists to announce the county’s participation in the program at Nickerson Beach.
“It is our responsibility to protect our environment for generations to come and Nassau County stands ready to do our part,” Curran said. “We are pledging to make significant strides towards fighting climate change by joining the Climate Smart Communities program. We are excited about the prospects of working together to create a more sustainable, cleaner New York.”
The Climate Smart Communities program began in 2009 as an interagency state initiative focused on encouraging local governments to find ways to be more conscious of climate change. It was created by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
The bill was unanimously passed by the county Legislature during a Dec. 16 session.
Members of the program are a network of communities across the state that engage in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improve climate resilience.
“New York is leading the way on combating climate change and ensuring a green, sustainable future for generations to come,” Kaminsky said. “I commend County Executive Laura Curran on her commitment to making Nassau a climate-smart community and transitioning away from inefficient and cost-prohibitive energy sources.”
Along with lowering greenhouse emissions, the county vows to decrease energy usage, promote reuse and recycling of materials, enhance community resilience to impacts of climate change such as sea-level rise, and evolve a climate action research program to incorporate new ideas and initiatives.
The program also calls for instilling a “green economy”, an aspect that the county has already been proactive about through ongoing initiatives and programs.
County officials said public awareness campaigns on the county’s green initiatives will be established to encourage residents to be more environmentally responsible.
According to officials, the county is currently conducting a mobility study that is looking into a variety of transportation options that hope to reduce single-occupancy vehicular travel and emerging technology and trends in renewable fuel vehicles.
The county’s Office of Emergency Management will also be implementing its Hazard Mitigation Plan 5-year update in the coming months, according to officials. The office is directly working with local municipalities and stakeholders to increase communal resistance to natural hazards such as severe storms, flooding, and earthquakes.
“Climate change is the defining issue of our generation,” Commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation Basil Seggos said. “On behalf of DEC, I applaud Nassau County for adopting the Climate Smart Communities pledge and joining the communities across New York State who are working to tackle this challenge in a collaborative and proactive way.”
There are currently 290 registered communities that have taken the Climate Smart Pledge, serving a total of 8,766,236 people, according to the program’s website.
Roughly 45 percent of the state’s population is living in a climate-smart community, a number that Seggos and the DEC would like to continually increase.