Following the Climate Crisis Money

I have been helping provide research support to readers of my blog when they have questions about the implementation of Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act  (Climate Act).  In this instance a question came up about an organization that is helping the New York Columbia County Climate Smart Task Force.  Every time I look into any aspect of the Climate Act, I find support for my conviction that the primary driver is all about the money.

This is another article about the Climate Act implementation plan that I have written because I believe the ambitions for a zero-emissions economy embodied in the Climate Act outstrip available renewable technology such that the net-zero transition will do more harm than good.  Moreover, the costs will be enormous and hurt those least able to afford increased costs the most.  The opinions expressed in this post do not reflect the position of any of my previous employers or any other company I have been associated with, these comments are mine alone.

The Money

I have been meaning to document the fact that major new organizations are getting funding to provide climate change coverage and this seems to be a good time to explain.  The Associated Press has assigned more than two dozen journalists to cover climate issues paid for through philanthropic grants of $8 million.  Last fall National Public Radio launched a “climate desk”:

NPR’s climate expansion has also been made possible by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, whose funding is helping NPR to add a new Climate Solutions reporter, as well as The Rockefeller Foundation, whose support will allow for more local and regional reporting on how climate change affects the most vulnerable populations.

There is no plausible reason to expect that these organizations will not provide coverage that suits their funding sources. If evidence surfaces that contradicts the narrative, how long will they ignore it?

In my post about the New York plans for a gas stove ban I referenced a post by Robert Bryce titled  The billionaires behind the gas bans.  He explained that “despite numerous claims about how nefarious actors are blocking the much-hyped ‘energy transition’” that the non-governmental organization-corporate-industrial-climate complex has far more money than the pro-hydrocarbon and pro-nuclear groups. He showed that the five biggest anti-hydrocarbon NGOs are now collecting about $1.5 billion per year from their donors and that is roughly three times more than the amount being collected by the top five non-profit associations that are either pro-hydrocarbon or pro-nuclear.

It is not just the news organizations and NGOs that plan to cash in on the climate change crisis narrative.  Now the State is lobbying local communities to pledge to fight the battle with the lure of funding for “green and clean” infrastructure.

New York Climate is a Crisis Money

The Climate Act has prompted an enormous private industry to implement the net-zero transition that has a vested interest in spending as much money as possible as soon as possible all in the name of saving the planet.  In addition, local governments are eyeing the gravy train.  As part of the transition, the Climate Act Scoping Plan Chapter 20 strategy for Local Government recommended:

Support capacity-building for local governments and related public entities: The State should provide educational materials and training to local governments and related public entities, so that they understand what resources are available to them and are prepared to receive funding.

The lure of this pot of money has led to a rush for the cash.  For example, on January 30 2023, newly elected Ulster County executive Jen Metzger presented the first executive order of her four-year term.  Metzger’s order aims to bring county operations into alignment with the Climate Act.  According to Hudson Valley One:

All government buildings will be assessed for on-site solar and battery storage, with the goal of fulfilling the electricity needs of the government by 2030. All major renovations of county buildings will require electric-only power sources and be equipped with EV charging as well. All new construction will require solar systems.  “We’re setting a goal,” said Metzger, “of diverting 100 percent countywide organic waste and incinerators by 2030.”

A key part of the executive order are efforts to attract more state and federal assistance and incentives.” Metzger sees “tremendous opportunity coming down the pipe from the Inflation Reduction Act, and she intends that Ulster County will be ready for it.”

There already is a state program in place that addresses the recommended strategy in the Scoping Plan. The Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program helps local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate. In fact, Ulster County was the first county in New York to be silver-certified as a climate-smart community.   According to the CSC fact sheet:

Climate Smart Communities (CSC) is a New York State program that supports local governments in leading their communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the effects of climate change, and thrive in a green economy. The benefits of participating include leadership recognition, free technical assistance, and access to grants. Local governments participate by signing a voluntary pledge and using the CSC framework to guide progress toward creating attractive, healthy, and equitable places to live, work, and play.

The State claims a few CSC Benefits:

  • Receive funding for climate change mitigation and adaption projects via the DEC CSC Grant program.
  • Reduce the cost of clean vehicles and associated charging/fueling stations via the DEC Municipal Zero emission Vehicle Rebate program.
  • Receive free technical assistance for clean energy and climate change initiatives from regional
  • coordinators.
  • Discover online guidance and decision-support tools via webpages.
  • Learn about best practices through CSC webinars.
  • Network with like-minded community leaders at CSC events and workshops.

The fact sheet describes how communities participate:

Columbia County Climate Smart Communities

One of my readers has attended meetings of the Columbia County Climate Smart Communities Task Force.  That organization has a coordinator who organizes the county’s response to the CSC program.  The goal of local communities is to become certified as “climate smart” community. To date five towns have achieved bronze certification in Columbia County.  A friend who is more attuned to this program explained there are climate committees in every village all chasing money for charging stations and many of the same people are pushing back against fossil infrastructure projects.

I was asked to provide some information about an organization that was present at a recent Task Force meeting.  In particular, the question was about the ICLEI. According to their website:

ICLEI is the first and largest global network of local governments devoted to solving the world’s most intractable sustainability challenges. Our standards, tools, and programs credibly, transparently, and robustly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve lives and livelihoods and protect natural resources in the communities we serve. 

I spent a long time trying to figure out the acronym but ended using Wikipedia:

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability (or simply ICLEI) is an international non-governmental organization that promotes sustainable development. ICLEI provides technical consulting to local governments to meet sustainability objectives.

Founded in 1990 and formerly known as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, the international association was established when more than 200 local governments from 43 countries convened at its inaugural conference, the World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future, at the United Nations in New York in September 1990.

As of 2020, more than 1,750 cities, towns, counties, and their associations in 126 countries are a part of the ICLEI network.

As of 2021, ICLEI has more than 20 offices around the world.

ICLEI’s role in the CSC process is support to help communities prepare components of their certification program. I believe but did not confirm that the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority provides funding for communities that need their services.  ICLEI has developed an online program for the GHG inventory, forecasts, climate action plans, and monitoring of communities.  Another aspect of the CSC plan is preparing a contribution plan and ICLEI has a toolkit for that.  They have other tools and resources. 


From the top to the bottom of the “climate change is a crisis” NGO-corporate-industrial-climate complex  there is an enormous pot of money available for those who adhere to the party line.  In New York any community willing to adopt the CSC Pledge has access to resources and funding.  The pledge is interesting:

I offer a challenge to the local governments that have made this pledge.  Go for it, but not just this virtue-signaling public relations gesture to get some money.  Francis Menton writing at the Manhattan Contrarian blog wrote that a demonstration project of a mainly renewables-based electrical grid is a common sense prerequisite before there are any more plans or pledges.  Climate Smart Communities of New York should prove their bona fides and develop a demonstration project for their community to address the issues he raised:

Could anybody possibly be stupid enough to believe the line that wind and solar generators can provide reliable electricity to consumers that is cheaper than electricity generated by fossil fuels? It takes hardly any thought about the matter to realize that wind and solar don’t work when it is calm and dark, as it often is, and particularly so in the winter, when it is also generally cold. Thus a wind/solar electricity system needs full backup, or alternatively storage — things that add to and multiply costs. Surely, our political leaders and top energy gurus are fully aware of these things, and would not try to mislead the public about the cost of electricity from a predominantly wind/solar system.


Nobody would be happier than me to see a demonstration project built that showed that wind and solar could provide reliable electricity at low cost. Unfortunately, I know too much about the subject to think that that is likely, or even remotely possible. But at least the rest of us need to demand a demonstration project from the promoters of these fantasies.


I wanted to make a few points about the climate crisis money trail so this response to one small component of New York’s Climate Act gave me the opportunity.  The world is filled with seemingly authoritative voices asserting with complete confidence that wind and solar generators are the answer to providing consumers with cheaper electricity and solving the climate crisis.  Their arguments are long on emotion and short on facts.  It is particularly troubling to me that major news organizations are funded by organizations that ascribe to that narrative.  No wonder that few if any of the practical considerations are mentioned by those organizations.

Given the constant drumbeat of climate doom and fantastical energy solutions that are clean and cheap, it is no wonder that communities across New York are signing the CSC pledge to reduce GHG emissions.  If I ever run short of topics to address the pledge itself certainly deserves a response.  It is a perfect example of the politically correct narrative that climate change is an existential threat.  Most of the articles posted on this blog address and dispute that story.  I will stand corrected if any jurisdiction develops a system to always provide reliable electricity at low cost that relies on intermittent wind and solar.

In the absence of a demonstration project it is all about the money.  Climate Smart Communities are at the top of the list for electric vehicle chargers that are considered a marketing advantage.  They also get support developing plans that are supposed to attract the clean energy jobs that are a selling point for the Climate Act.  I cannot help but wonder why if all these plans have so many advantages, why they depend upon direct subsidies.

Finally, the answer to the original question.  ICLEI is an organization that provides technical support to local communities who want to “solve” climate change by reducing GHG emissions, in this case, the New York Climate Smart Communities.  It would be a good question to ask County legislators whether the costs for ICLEI are covered by NYSERDA or there is some cost-sharing agreement.  If NYSERDA picks up the entire tab localities that is one thing.  However, if Columbia County does have to contribute funding for ICLEI services I think it is appropriate to ask what benefits accrue to county residents.

Author: rogercaiazza

I am a meteorologist (BS and MS degrees), was certified as a consulting meteorologist and have worked in the air quality industry for over 40 years. I author two blogs. Environmental staff in any industry have to be pragmatic balancing risks and benefits and ( reflects that outlook. The second blog addresses the New York State Reforming the Energy Vision initiative ( Any of my comments on the web or posts on my blogs are my opinion only. In no way do they reflect the position of any of my past employers or any company I was associated with.

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