New York lawmakers have passed a sweeping climate plan that requires the state to eliminate almost all of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The plan calls for the phase-out of gasoline cars and oil- and gas-burning furnaces and requires all of the state’s electricity to come from carbon-free sources.
The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires the state to slash its carbon emissions to 85% below 1990 levels by 2050 and to offset the remaining 15% by other means such as removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The bill requires New York to get 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
The challenges of reaching the program’s goals are daunting. New York has so far only reduced its emissions by 8% since 1990. The state currently does get 60% of its electricity from carbon-free sources – mostly hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants – but it will require offshore windfarms, ramped-up solar installations, and battery storage systems to push the numbers dramatically higher.
Transportation, which is responsible for a third of New York’s emissions, will be particularly tough to tackle. The Trump administration is rolling back federal vehicle efficiency rules and is trying to prevent states from setting stricter standards. Currently, electric car ownership is primarily attractive for single-family homeowners who can plug in their cars at home. Far more pervasive charging stations – for example, all over the streets of New York City – would be needed to make electric cars practical for everyone.
The plan aims for industries to bear most of the financial burden, but supporters say that the costs of not acting on climate will be vastly greater for businesses. The plan’s deadlines for major emissions reductions are a decade away but there will be much to do quite soon.
Photo, posted September 17, 2009, courtesy of Flickr.