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New York State agencies and authorities today launched the 'Car Free for Climate' campaign as part of the State’s recognition of Climate Week 2020 (Sept. 21 to 27). The goal of the campaign is to reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging New Yorkers to pledge to forego driving their vehicles at least one day during Climate Week and instead walking, riding a bike, or using mass transit. Car Free for Climate supports New York's ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, and 85 percent by 2050, from 1990 levels.

State agencies and authorities leading the Car Free for Climate campaign and outreach efforts include the State Department of Transportation (DOT) and the co-chairs of the GreenNY Council: the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC); New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA); Office of General Services (OGS); and the New York Power Authority (NYPA).

To participate, New Yorkers can take the pledge to not drive their car at least one day during the week of Sept. 21 to 27, and then follow through with that commitment to be car free. Participants are also encouraged to let friends and neighbors know about going Car Free for Climate by posting about their experience on social media using the hashtag #NYSCarFree.

DEC Commissioner and Climate Action Council Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, “Transportation is the largest source of New York’s greenhouse gas emissions. We need an all hands-on deck approach to reducing emissions and we are encouraging all New Yorkers to join us in this effort. New York can and should be an example for the rest of the nation to follow and taking the Car Free for Climate pledge is a great way to start.”

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “The New York State Department of Transportation continues to enhance the Empire State’s transportation network to reflect the true diversity of how New Yorkers travel — pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and drivers alike. DOT is proud to support the GreenNY Council along with our colleagues at other state agencies as we educate, advocate and invest in cleaner transportation alternatives. During this week-long campaign, I urge New Yorkers to get out of their vehicles and take advantage of the variety of transportation alternatives available to them so we can all do our part to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

There are many ways New Yorkers can go Car Free for Climate, such as reducing trips by combining errands into a single day, using public transit, walking to the neighborhood pizza place, or enjoying parks and open space within walking or biking distance.

Transportation accounts for 36 percent of greenhouse gases in New York State and represents more than electricity generation, waste, refrigerants, and agriculture combined. To encourage New Yorkers to go Car Free for Climate all year round, the State has invested in non-vehicle transportation, including biking/walking infrastructure and the Empire State Trail from Albany to Buffalo and New York City to the Canadian Border. In addition, through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, New York State has supported transforming downtown areas to make it easier for people to walk or bike. New York State has also invested in pedestrian safety through the New York State Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, a five-year, $110 million multi-agency initiative launched in 2016 to make streets safer for pedestrians. Other initiatives and programs designed to achieve Governor Cuomo's Charge NY goal of 10,000 EV charging stations by the end of 2021 and 850,000 zero emission vehicles by 2025 are also already underway. Under NYSERDA's Drive Clean Rebate program, more than $35 million in rebates have now resulted in over 25,000 electric vehicle purchases as of June of this year.