ICYMI: Climate Policy Is Good For Business

NEW YORK, NY (11/02/2023) (readMedia)-- In a new op-ed in Crain's, Tom O'Keefe (climate tech angel investor and organizer with #TechForLocalLaw97) shows how policies like New York State's CLCPA and New York City's Local Law 97 are good for business in New York. Despite the Business Council of New York's campaign to slow down climate progress, New York is home to a burgeoning climate tech industry that's positioned to challenge Silicon Valley and make New York the climate tech capital of the world, thanks in no small part to these laws.

Read the full op-ed here or pasted below.

Op-ed: Don't fight New York's future as a global climate tech capital

by Tom O'Keefe

Just three days after The Business Council of New York State and Partnership for New York City announced a million-dollar campaign to slow down the state's climate plan, New York City flooded. Subways, streets and Metro-North service shut down, and schools and homes had to be evacuated.

This campaign by the business council is misguided. Not just because the impacts of climate change continue to disrupt our lives, but because it ignores a growing segment of New York businesses. Here in New York, we have a burgeoning climate tech industry that's positioned to challenge Silicon Valley and make New York the climate tech capital of the world. This industry depends on New York State's commitments to fighting climate change, and it's poised to become a major economic engine for New York City and state.

Already, the New York metropolitan area leads the U.S. in the creation of clean energy jobs. In 2022, the state had 166,014 workers in the clean energy sector, thanks in no small part to strong policies like the statewide Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and New York City's Local Law 97.

Passed in 2020, Local Law 97 requires owners of city buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to comply with carbon caps of increasing stringency beginning in 2024, and ramping up every five years until 2050. The law is smart policy that will make a huge dent in meeting our statewide carbon emissions reduction mandates under the CLCPA, since buildings account for more than two-thirds of New York City's greenhouse gas emissions, but it's also been a boon for the climate tech industry.

Since 2020, $4.6 billion in investment has flowed into climate tech in the city, and there have been more than 100 new climate tech startups founded here. The bulk of these startups focus on tech crucial to reducing emissions from buildings, like energy efficiency and clean heat and cooling. But other startups have nothing to do with buildings, and were simply attracted to New York because of the growing climate tech community and conducive policy and business environment.

It's understandable that some business interests are afraid of bold progress toward fighting climate change. But the reality is, climate progress is driving an industry that will create new jobs at all skill and education levels. As the rest of the country catches up to New York's bold policy and increases demand for the products and innovation New York is leading, we're already in position to be the nation's central climate tech hub. The Business Council has a choice: continue fighting against its own interests in a desperate attempt to stay behind in the 20th century, or support the policies that will ensure New York stays at the forefront of business's future well into the 21st.

Tom O'Keefe is a climate tech angel investor and #TechForLocalLaw97 organizer.