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Local summit aims for action on climate 

For several years, climate and environmental activists have been calling for New York to take serious, aggressive action to transition the state to 100 percent renewable energy.

The state has made progress. It now requires utilities to get half of their electricity from renewables by 2030. And earlier this year, New York and some other Northeast states approved – at New York officials' urging – a tougher cap on power-plant carbon emissions.

New York climate activists advocated around both actions, pushing hard for the parts they liked and calling out the parts they didn't. They focused on specific policies, and their details, as a way to move the state toward a broader renewable energy goal. And that's an approach many activists want to see more of, says Sue Hughes-Smith, a Rochester People's Climate Coalition leadership team member.

That's why a group of climate and renewable-energy advocacy groups, including the Rochester People's Climate Coalition and Mothers Out Front, have organized the New York Climate Solutions Summit, which takes place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 28 at the Harley School in Brighton. The registration fee is $20.

The day-long summit includes workshops and case study presentations on renewables, energy efficiency, transportation, movement building, and environmental justice. The keynote speakers will be former Sierra Club President Aaron Mair and ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber.

Ultimately, organizers want to advance the discussion around what sort of actions will be required to move the state off of fossil fuels, Hughes-Smith says. Some of the efforts will be legislative; others will be technical, such as identifying realistic targets for wind or solar power development, she says.

"There is a solution," says Hughes-Smith. "We can do this."

Information on the summit is available at http://nyclimatesummit.org.

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