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New Map Shows "Disadvantaged" Communities in Line for Climate Funds

New York State

Disadvantaged communities, climate laws, greenhouse gas emissions, state funding, environmental justice.

The dark areas designate "disadvantaged" neighborhoods in New York City.

April 4, 2023

New York has finalized a map of communities across the state that are considered “disadvantaged” — including broad swaths of New York City — to prioritize as it spends billions on renewable energy and climate projects to realize the state’s ambitious Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, Crain's reports.

The law was passed in 2019, the same year New York City passed its own Climate Mobilization Act. The state law mandates that at least 35% of state spending be directed to “disadvantaged communities.” A map of those areas in New York City includes large swaths of coastline, much of the Bronx, upper Manhattan, central Brooklyn, parts of Queens and the north shore of Staten Island. The state has also mapped out what it deems are disadvantaged communities in the nine other regions across New York.

State-appointed members of the Climate Justice Working Group, which is made up of environmental justice advocates, voted last week to finalize 1,736 census tracts—or more than one-third of the state—that will be first in line for investments to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Factors considered include demographics such as age, race and income, along with environmental burdens and climate change risks.

The effort caps a more-than-two-year process to define so-called disadvantaged communities, and it will have far-reaching implications for targeting investment. The state’s Climate Action Council estimates it could cost up to $340 billion to fully realize the 2019 climate act’s carbon-cutting mandates.

In a statement, Basil Seggos, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, described the finalized criteria as “a significant milestone in New York's ongoing work to achieve climate justice.” 

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