ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It’s easy to imagine that climate change is affecting other parts of the country outside of the state. The reality is that New York is not immune to temperature and seasonal changes, or health issues associated with climate change, but the state is trying to address it head-on.

More focus and a lot of money towards initiatives to help tackle climate change have been the norm over the past couple of years. Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced multiple actions since the beginning of 2022 including a plan to make two million homes in the state climate-friendly, electrified, or electrification-ready by 2030 that don’t run on natural gas.

The plan includes updates to the state’s energy efficiency laws, zero on-site greenhouse gas emissions for new construction no later than 2027, and energy benchmarking for large buildings to track energy efficiency improvements. “This transformative investment in green infrastructure will cement New York’s status at the forefront of climate action and ensure equity in our transition to a cleaner, greener state,” Hochul said on January 5.

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has a website detailing the effects of climate change in New York. The website breaks down climate change facts, what the state is doing to fight it, and a greenhouse emissions report.

Climate change in New York

  • Since 1970 the average temperature has risen about 2.4°F
  • There’s been a statewide rise in annual average temperature in all regions
  • Future warming will mostly occur in northern parts of the state
  • The average annual precipitation has increased since 1900 (more rain and snow)
  • There’s been more rain and snow in the winter and less in the summer
  • More frequent storms and heavier downpours are expected in the future
  • Sea levels are up along the states coast more than a foot since 1900 and expected to be 18-75 inches higher by 2100
  • Spring starts about a week earlier than it did in the 1950s
  • Bees start pollinating in the northeast about 10 days earlier than they did in the 1880s
  • The states breeding bird and oceanic fish population ranges have moved north over the last several decades

Climate change has a direct link to the health of New Yorkers. People who are susceptible to warmer temperatures like people with cardiovascular or pulmonary issues may have a more difficult time being outside. Warmer temperatures increase the presence of smog, ground ozone, and pollen making it more difficult for allergy sufferers.

Albany was ranked as the nation’s 10th-worst city for people with allergies in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s (AAFA) 2022 Allergy Capitals report. “If we don’t slow down the cycle (of climate change), pollen production and air pollution will only get worse. Millions of people already have seasonal allergic rhinitis, and pollen allergies are a major cause. If this cycle continues, we may see the number of people with seasonal allergies increase,” the organization said.

Climate change can also make flooding or drought more common. This can put more residents in the way of dangerous rushing waters and affect crop outcomes on New York farms. NEWS10 reached out to the DEC for comment. Read DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos statement below:

Climate change is the existential environmental threat of our time. In 2019, New York passed the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act to help protect public health and the environment. As part of the Climate Act, we are working toward our aggressive goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and electrify our economy. These efforts are critical to help address extreme weather events, ensure preservation of our ecosystem, improve public health and air quality, and create jobs and opportunities and ensure climate justice for future generations. The benefits of the investments being made in New York State to implement the Climate Act far outweigh the costs of inaction to reduce our emissions and combat climate change. For New Yorkers this means cleaner air, fewer hospital visits and health care costs, lives saved from premature death, new green jobs and careers, and fewer extreme weather events.  

DEC Commissioner Seggos