DEC: Greenhouse gases down, more work needed to meet state goals

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FILE – In this July 27, 2018, file photo, the Dave Johnson coal-fired power plant is silhouetted against the morning sun in Glenrock, Wyo. More than 300 businesses and investors are calling on the Biden administration to set an ambitious climate change goal that would cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- With bold goals to combat climate change New York has been pushing forward with environmentally friendly legislation like the polystyrene ban effective Jan. 1. A major component in the state’s plan has been reversing the effects of climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG).

New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) limits GHGs to 40% of 1990 levels by 2030 and 85% by 2050 in the state. An annual report detailing where the state is in terms of meeting GHG emissions goals is part of the CLCPA.

The report is handled by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) who released its first yearly report Thursday, December 30.

“The release of the first CLCPA-compliant, statewide report on GHG emissions advances New York’s efforts to implement our nation-leading Climate Law by providing a snapshot of greenhouse gas emissions, which will help ensure we achieve our aggressive target of net-zero emissions by 2050,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.

The report shows New York has made progress in reducing GHG in some sectors but is struggling to reduce them in others like transportation which has seen an increase in GHGs, according to Seggos. Transportation (28%) was the second-highest producer of greenhouse gases. Residential and commercial fuel combustions, product use and imported fuels falling under the umbrella of “buildings” in the report were the highest producer of GHGs (32%).

Overall New York has quite a bit of work ahead of it to meet its 2030 goal in eight years. GHGs are down 6% from 1990 and 17% from 2005. Seggos said this report, and subsequent annual reports will help guide the state’s focus towards meeting GHG goals.

“This annual report shows that while New York State has reduced emissions from several sectors over the last three decades, emissions from some sectors, including transportation, have increased, revealing that enormous challenges remain in our ongoing work to meet our emission-reduction targets,” Seggos said. “The report is a critical resource as we continue to act on climate and advance a just transition to clean energy that creates good jobs and supports a green economy for the future.”

Electricity production is an area in New York where great strides reducing GHGs have been made. There has been a 46% decrease in electricity emissions since 1990. In addition to reducing GHGs, the state has also set a goal of having 100% of its homes and businesses powered by green energy by 2040.

“New York, we’re not just the Empire State, but we’re the 10th largest economy in the world,” Seggos told NEWS10 shortly after his return from the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). He also told NEWS10 that working with environmental activists has helped the state develop its climate change goals, putting New York in a good position to help other states and countries with its climate change goals too.

The state has taken acted two-fold, investing in infrastructure and policies that will further climate change goals while also investing in green jobs. Before resigning as governor, Andrew Cuomo pushed the idea of New York having a green economy.

Governor Kathy Hochul took up the fight against climate change when she was sworn in. She signed a law that would require all cars and trucks sold in the state to be zero-emission by 2035. She also said she wants to triple the state’s solar energy capacity in the next decade and sent a letter to federal legislators along with nine other governors, urging strong action against climate change.

GHGs released into the atmosphere cause warmer temperatures which harm the environment. The U.S. is one of the largest contributors to GHGs, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. The Environmental Protection Agency said transportation is the largest source of GHG emissions in the states.

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