Albany leaders highlight sustainability efforts amid proposal to declare climate emergency

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — This Earth Day, Albany city leaders send a message to the community — they’re committed and hope you will be too on reducing the city’s carbon footprint.

“It’s a goal that I strongly believe is attainable, but we have to work,” says Common Councilman Owusu Anane.

Anane is supporting a resolution for Albany to declare a climate emergency. He says the goal is to mobilize city resources and send a message to the community.

“Call climate emergency what it is. It is real, and all levels of government can take action,” Anane says in a Zoom call with NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.

“We have a strong commitment to ensuring we are doing all we can to save the climate,” adds Mayor Kathy Sheehan.

The vote isn’t until May 3, but the city already set to work on its sustainability efforts. One goal is to complete converting 10,000 street lights to LED and reduce energy consumption.

“Which is going to save the city of Albany taxpayers millions of dollars in the long run,” Anane says.

There will also be 13 new electric vehicle chargers set up in high traffic areas and the Albany Skyway is set to be unveiled by the end of 2021. Both aim to reduce the city’s carbon emissions.

“The Skyway is going to help a lot in that we will reduce the numbers of cars on the road and in closing that highway to make the linear park, there will also be economic opportunities for people to set up local businesses so a person may not need to drive to Walmart or the grocery store, they can walk down and get [what they need] from their neighbors,” Anane says.

He adds he’s working with Mayor Sheehan’s office to plant 2,025 new trees by 2025 and get the community involved through an “Adopt a Tree” program.

“It’s not just the City of Albany being environmentally conscious and planting trees, but also working with residents to have a buy-in into what we’re doing,” he says. “There’s also an equity component where if you can’t afford to buy the tree, the city will work with you as long as you’re willing to take care of it, and I have been very moved by all the hard-working families I’ve seen stepping up and taking initiative to take care of their neighborhoods.”

“We will also be focusing on those areas that have been neglected over the years and working to beautify those neighborhoods for them,” Anane continues.

Mayor Sheehan says she’s hopeful the new administration’s public support for environmental efforts will also mean more federal support is on the way.

“Under the Biden administration, there’s going to be a lot of funding available for climate initiatives, and we look forward to taking advantage of that,” she says.

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