DIANNE MORALES RESPONSES
1) What are your top environmental and climate-related priorities?
Climate justice requires immediate action to reverse harm to our environment and protect New Yorkers who are suffering disproportionately as a result. Our campaign’s top climate priorities include investing in green infrastructure, developing a green workforce, and creating environmental protections for at-risk communities. We believe New York City can and must be a global leader on climate change resilience and adaptation by prioritizing and investing in green jobs, urban community gardens, and the retrofitting of our infrastructure and housing to provide the employment and social projects we urgently need now and into the future.
I enthusiastically support the Green New Deal and was proud to take the Green New Deal Pledge. I will not accept contributions over $200 from oil, gas, and coal industry executives, lobbyists, or PACs. When we divest from fossil fuel companies, we can then truly invest in the health of our communities.
To provide a specific example of the climate justice actions we will take: in alignment with the Green New Deal for public housing efforts, we believe in fully funding NYCHA. That includes employing NYCHA residents in retrofitting and upgrading NYCHA stock as part of a climate adaptation and resiliency program. We must also work to give NYCHA residents expanded decision making control over the future of NYCHA as a leader in the fight against climate change and for social and environmental justice.
It is time to push back against the mistaken belief that we can manage ourselves back to normal. Instead, we need a new playbook that addresses these intersecting crises—lack of affordable housing, inaccessible healthcare, gender and racial injustice, and the climate crisis—at their roots.
2) How would you prioritize the creation of climate jobs in New York City and investment in communities of color, if at all?
Our campaign is aligned with Climate Works for All’s belief that “good climate policy is good labor policy.” Going further, we believe that climate and labor policy must work together with gender and racial justice efforts to fully invest in communities of color. That means prioritizing jobs programs, social housing, NYCHA, food justice, green spaces, public transportation and sustainable infrastructure, as well as building out the care economy with quality public childcare and paid family leave.
As mayor I would invest in a youth training and employment agenda around sustainable projects partnering with community organizations and social entrepreneurs, expanding on models I developed as the CEO of youth development and anti-poverty organizations. I would also enthusiastically spread awareness and advocacy for a Federal Job Guarantee bill and work to see what a Municipal version of a jobs guarantee could look like.
To make these investments in climate jobs and communities of color possible, we need to divest from fossil fuels, racist policing, and other sources of harm. I was the first candidate for Mayor to call to defund the police, and when I am Mayor we will reinvest in the community based resources that play an essential role in uplifting Black and Brown families. Our money will be redirected towards the needs of the people rather than a system that enforces racism and violence.
3) How would you advance the City’s goal of implementing 100% clean, affordable energy and maximizing greenhouse gas and co-pollutant reductions, if at all?
As an Afro- Boricua/mother, I know firsthand the consequences of inaction on climate justice, and why it’s so critical to fight for a better present and future for our children. Environmental racism like air pollution contributes to the significantly higher risk of dying from coronavirus for low-income and Black and Brown communities. That’s one of the reasons I signed the Green New Deal Pledge, and will work with the state and federal governments to champion and enact the Green New Deal.
It’s also why I support city-wide proposals like Climate Works for All’s Climate And Community Stimulus Platform. We need detailed plans like this that focus on clean affordable energy, climate resilience and adaptation, and green infrastructure and jobs.
4) How would you support the affordable and low-income housing sector in improving energy efficiency, enhancing residents’ comfort and living conditions, and meeting the City’s emissions reductions goals, if at all?
We must recognize that we cannot separate housing justice from public safety or public health. People cannot be safe or healthy if they do not have a place to live. My “Housing for All” initiative will decrease and stabilize rents. It will also fundamentally reframe the profit-driven, developer led approach to housing in NYC, taking housing development and land significantly off the speculative market and instead prioritizing building needs-based quality mixed-income housing similar to the Vienna model. In alignment with the Green New Deal for public housing efforts, I believe in fully funding NYCHA as needed, including employing NYCHA residents in retrofitting and upgrading NYCHA stock as part of a climate adaptation and resiliency program. I am opposed to the privatization of NYCHA and further support the democratization of NYCHA governance by putting more decision-making authority and power in the hands of tenants.
Our policies must reflect housing as a human rights issue, and I will work with the New York City Human Rights Commission to design a human rights framework around that. Housing for All is not just about a roof and four walls; it’s about living in dignity. Public housing, historically, has been discriminatorily underfunded for over 50 decades on a federal level. As incoming Mayor, I will work hard with the incoming Biden administration, and the incoming Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Hon. Marcia Fudge, to ensure that the funding schemes equitably prioritize New York City.
5) How would you support the expansion of clean public transportation in the City, if at all?
My administration will implement measures to ensure safe, energy efficient, and accessible transportation for all mass transit users, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers throughout the entire city. Issues faced by the MTA have disproportionately affected the outer Boroughs, as well as working class and low income communities, and communities of color. That’s why I support taking municipal control of the city’s public transit systems, including the MTA, under a new city entity ultimately falling under the responsibility of the Mayor’s office.
The state of New York must then delegate an expanded degree of taxing authority to the city. We can then implement strategies like congestion pricing, reducing trucks and cars on streets, addressing climate adaptation, and shift the regressive fare system away from working class and low-income New Yorkers, working steadily toward free transportation. I would love to see full municipal control of CitiBike, since their current structure has prioritized the comfort of tourists over that of New Yorkers.
6) How would you upgrade local industrial port infrastructure in a way that is both sustainable and equitable, if at all?
We need to consider the investments made by the Cuomo administration in a multi-port strategy for offshore wind generation as a starting place for sustainable and equitable port infrastructure. Our city’s ports can be a critical part of a green energy and manufacturing hub, but only if we bring the same commitments to social justice, democratic process, and local control that we bring to all of our actions.
Sustainable and equitable port infrastructure will be a part of our larger commitment to green infrastructure, which will include creating a municipal green jobs guarantee. By finally investing in lowering carbon emissions in NYC, we can invest in thousands of jobs while also working to combat climate change.
7A) How would you develop climate resiliency infrastructure on public lands to protect New York City’s most vulnerable communities, if at all?
A fully funded and democratized NYCHA is one critical part of ensuring climate resiliency for our city’s most vulnerable communities. A significant number of NYCHA developments are located in floodplains, meaning Black and Brown communities near the water are at particular risk for rising water levels and flooding. All of the city’s waterfront communities in high-risk areas need a significant investment in green infrastructure, with zoning, building codes, and land-use strategies that build on the lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy put in service of returning power to those most impacted, all in order to protect our most vulnerable communities.
7B) How would you support the Renewable Rikers proposal, if at all?
Our communities of color are still living under the shadow of stop and frisk and broken windows policing. I am one of the many Black and brown mothers in this city who has witnessed their children profiled and assaulted by the police. Rikers Island has long been a blight on the soul of our city, epitomizing the worst of our criminal justice system. Far too many New Yorkers sit on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime, simply because they cannot afford to post bail. As Mayor I will invest in a bail-voucher system and divest from any proposal for new prisons, and pressure the District Attorneys to end cash bail. Our campaign is adopting a restorative model that prioritizes communities and stops criminalizing poverty.
For these reasons, proposals like the Renewable Rikers Act are so important. Transforming this place of cruelty into a place of renewal and clean energy is something our campaign would support. Doing so could generate 1,000 megawatt of solar energy, powering around 250,000 homes, creating green jobs along the way. As we transform this one prison, I also commit to stopping the planned construction of the four new jails intended to replace it.
Too many laws on our books were designed to criminalize Black, Brown and poor people. We need to examine the entire criminal code and repeal any laws that reinforce racial targeting by law enforcement. We must end the failed war on drugs and direct and encourage substance users to seek treatment, versus criminalization and stigma. We should pursue restorative means of justice, employ trauma-informed practices, as we move away from a racist culture of criminalization, to a higher form of Justice.
8A) How would you support the City in meeting its target of becoming zero waste by 2030, if at all?
When it comes to meeting our 2030 zero waste target, it’s clear to me that we need a much more aggressive and comprehensive education plan. So many New Yorkers are not aware of the impact of their waste or the role they can play in reducing it. We need to educate them on what happens when waste rots in landfills, the ways in which it contributes to dangerous greenhouse gases, as well as the challenges posed by things like the toxic ash produced by incinerators.
Yet we also know that individual education on these issues is not enough. Larger companies that create the most waste must step up and do the most to ensure we reach our 2030 target. Nor will a punitive system work for the many New Yorkers who are living on the edge. We must bring a racial justice lens as we consider how to educate and legislate our ways toward zero waste in 2030.
8B) Commercial Waste Zones and Local Law 199 is an example of the sort of comprehensive and transformative climate justice policy that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emission while also raising labor standards, and its implementation will likely happen under the next mayoral administration. How will you ensure that the ambitious goals of the policy are prioritized and accomplished in its implementation?
This policy will move forward in tandem with my other policies around climate justice and fair, equitable labor standards.
9A) How would you invest in the New York City workforce for a future of climate jobs, if at all?
As I shared earlier, we are committed to creating a municipal green jobs guarantee. We will invest in lowering carbon emissions in NYC, investing in thousands of jobs while also working to combat climate change. I will also invest in a youth training and employment agenda around sustainable projects partnering with community organizations and social entrepreneurs, expanding on models I developed as the CEO of youth development and anti-poverty organizations.
9B) How would you implement measures to ensure the creation of high road jobs, if at all?
There’s no doubt that the Just Transition at the core of the Green New Deal will require high-road jobs that reverse inequality. That means strong unions and labor protections as well as strong training and apprenticeship programs. It also means investing in low-income communities, and in particular Black and Brown communities, who’ve been the hardest hit by both the economic and health consequences of the pandemic, and have been on the frontlines of environmental injustice for decades. These high-road principles will guide the implementation of our municipal green jobs guarantee.
10) Is there an innovative idea, policy or otherwise, that you believe would allow NYC to be a leader in our quest for Climate Justice?
Whether it be the Green New Deal at the federal level, or Climate Works for All’s proposals for the city, there are already many innovative ideas and policies that need to be championed and implemented. At the core of that work will be our municipal green jobs guarantee. I’ll close by naming that some of the most powerful ideas for climate justice aren’t new at all, but rooted in the generational stewardship of Native and Indigenous peoples. Climate justice begins for us by acknowledging that we are guests in Lenapehoking, the Lenape homeland, and we honor the stewardship of the Lenape people, past, present, and future.