In 2010, businessman Harry Wilson came within five points of beating New York state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli — the closest a Republican has come to winning statewide office since for Gov. George Pataki’s last re-election in 2002.
Wilson is running again — this time for governor in the hopes of ending the Grand Old Party’s two-decade long drought. First, he’ll need to secure the nomination through a primary in June.
Wilson joined Capital Tonight to discuss his run for office, bail reform, inflation and climate change.
“I am a believer in climate change. I believe that should take climate change seriously and need to address it,” Wilson said. “The way to address it is thoughtfully and with a plan, as opposed to a bunch of political platitudes.”
According to Wilson, the Climate Change & Community Protection Act (CLCPA), a 2019 law which mandates New York state reduce emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and then to 85% below 1990 levels by 2050, was set as a political target without any achievable plan to get there.
“What you see in the CLCPA, is that you have a bunch of politically-driven targets…without any plan to get there,” he said.
When it was pointed out to him that the Climate Action Council’s draft scoping plan was released in December for public comment and would be completed by December 2022, he said the lengthy time frame for developing a plan “epitomizes the problem.”
“They’re going to take a year. There’s been no discussion around some extraordinarily broad statements in that plan like eliminating methane emissions completely,” Wilson said. “[The plan] said we need transformative change to eliminate methane emissions. Okay, what is that transformative change? Has there been any work done around it? Is there any thoughtfulness around it?”
“If you go through each of the pieces, there is no plan. It’s a series of targets without any details. It does not take a year to develop that. It can be done in weeks.”
In response, Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates NY and member of the state Climate Action Council, sent this emailed statement to Capital Tonight.
“The draft plan recommends that all new residential construction be free of fossil fuels starting in 2024, but if Harry Wilson thinks it can be done faster than that, I am all ears,” Iwanowicz stated.
This year, climate activists have been focused on funding the supportive legislation needed to implement the CAC’s clean energy roadmap. Lawmakers are currently debating whether to implement a carbon tax or a wealth tax.
Some legislation that’s been introduced to meet the goals of the CLCPA have received pushback, for example, the All Electric Buildings Act, which would require new construction to have electric heat by 2024.
Wilson is convinced that ideas that “make sense” will be embraced by the public.
“If there’s a roadmap and a vision that’s going to make sense and is in people’s best interests, I think you can convince people,” he told Capital Tonight.