Position Statement – 2019
A.3876 (Englebright)/S.2992 (Kaminsky)
New York State Climate and Community Protection Act
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) strongly supports the New York State Climate and Community Protection Act, which passed the Assembly in 2018 and has been reintroduced in the Assembly and Senate this legislative session. This legislation addresses and helps mitigate the impacts of climate change and the burning of fossil fuels in the State of New York. WBASNY has a keen interest in the bills because, as the bills state, climate change has a disproportionate impact on women, among others. In addition, climate change exacerbates air pollution and increases incidences of asthma attacks and other negative health outcomes. WBASNY is deeply concerned about the resulting health-related impacts on children, which are a sensitive population that can be disproportionately affected by pollution.
WBASNY is deeply committed to protecting women’s and children’s health and addressing climate change and its impacts, which include drought, floods, extreme weather events and reduced food and water security. A United Nations organization states that “Women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change in situations of poverty, and the majority of the world’s poor are women.”  In addition to climate change, the extraction and burning of fossil fuels create pollution that causes premature deaths and serious health problems. The World Health Organization states that “An estimated 4.2 million premature deaths globally are linked to ambient air pollution, mainly from heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and acute respiratory infections in children….In children and adults, both short- and long-term exposure to ambient air pollution can lead to reduced lung function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. Maternal exposure to ambient air pollution is associated with adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight, pre-term birth and small gestational age births. Emerging evidence also suggests ambient air pollution may affect diabetes and neurological development in children.” Children can be disproportionately affected by pollution because they breathe more air relative to their size than adults do, their bodies are not fully developed, and their growing organs can be more easily harmed. This sensitive population, as well as the general public, suffers from an energy infrastructure that relies on fossil fuels.
WBASNY supports the proposed legislation because:
Codification of New York’s strong renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals while adding a comprehensive framework aimed at their attainment are included in this legislation. The bills are also groundbreaking because they include environmental justice provisions for disadvantaged communities. The passage of this legislation would place New York State at the forefront, nationally and internationally, with respect to addressing climate change and pollution related to fossil fuels. With atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide now reaching their highest levels in millions of years after an unprecedented rate of increase, the nation and the international community urgently need leaders. New York should take on that leadership role immediately by passage and enactment of the landmark Climate and Community Protection Act.
As an organization comprised of attorneys and judges across the state in private practice, government, academia and the courts dedicated to the advancement of women in law and society, WBASNY strongly supports these bills.
 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Gender and Climate Change webpage, https://unfccc.int/topics/gender/the-big-picture/introduction-to-gender-and-climate-change.
 World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/airpollution/ambient/health-impacts/en/.
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, America’s Children and the Environment, Third Ed. (January 23, 2013),https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/ace3_2013.pdf.