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In a line that stretched upwards of a mile, over 700 New Yorkers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on April 18, 2019 to demand Gov. Andrew Cuomo to block the controversial Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Pipeline, which would carry fracked gas through New York Harbor. Photo by Erik McGregor via Getty

The challenges of race, equity and the environment are “intersecting and interconnected," and New York is “putting equity at the center,” Ali Zaidi, New York’s deputy secretary for energy and environment, said at an Axios event on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Low-income communities and communities of color are most at risk from climate change, experts say. Because climate change determines who benefits and suffers from the consequences of greenhouse gases, racial justice has become increasingly critical in the pursuit of environmental justice.

The state of play: Clean energy is a goal in a growing number of states. New York has set its own standard — 70% renewable electricity by 2030 — and Zaidi says equity is a key piece in the implementation of policy.

  • New York’s distributed solar program, which Zaidi said saw a record of deployments in the third quarter, has helped bring jobs back, revitalized commute and reduced dependence on polluting sources of power, “which directly relate to the public health of the communities that are most vulnerable in the face of this pandemic.”
  • The state reduces burden on families by investing in the turnover of old and inefficient appliances, which helps the grid and indoor air quality, according to Zaidi. The governor announced grants to increase support for communities disproportionately impacted by pollution in August.
  • “So it's an opportunity to advance jobs. It's an opportunity to advance justice. And it's an opportunity to advance our climate ambitions. That's the playbook Gov. Cuomo has laid out," Zaidi said.

Yes, but: Not everyone agrees with Zaidi’s assessment. Climate activists flooded a hearing on environmental funding in January and chanted, “We call bullsh*t on the government’s budget.

  • Cuomo also found himself a target in 2018 when activists called his policies “half measures,” according to HuffPost.

The big picture: The Trump administration has struck down parts of the federal government’s climate work over the years, leading environmental activists like Greta Thunberg to endorse Joe Biden in the presidential election. Biden has set his eyes on carbon-free electricity by 2035.

  • “This is the time to go in,” said Zaidi, who is also advising the Biden campaign. "It's the time to gain those yards rushing on the things we know how to do and continue to take those passes down the field, innovate the technologies that we're going to need."

Go deeper

Biden's Day 1 challenges: Systemic racism

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor (PA Images)/Getty Images

Advocates are pushing President-elect Biden to tackle systemic racism with a Day 1 agenda that includes ending the detention of migrant children and expanding DACA, announcing a Justice Department investigation of rogue police departments and returning some public lands to Indigenous tribes.

Why it matters: Biden has said the fight against systemic racism will be one of the top goals of his presidency — but the expectations may be so high that he won't be able to meet them.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
5 hours ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.