New York's Aggressive Law to Take On Climate Change Explained as Part of Earth Week

Apr 24, 2020

Electric car-charging stations on Washington St. in Syracuse stand unused much of the time. That will need to change, along with other energy efficiency strategies, for New York to meet climate goals.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

To wrap up Earth Week, A Cornell University Climate expert shares some optimism and suggestions about New York State reaching its emissions goals.  Bob Howarth is on the task force for the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). 

Breakdown of the sources for greenhouse gas emissions in NYS.
Credit climate.ny.gov

It’s main goal is to reduce greenhouse gases by 40-percent in ten years.

“We can’t do it simply by going 100% renewable electricity because that alone will not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions enough.  We need to tackle transportation and the challenge that I think is perhaps foremost there is heating.  A lot of the greenhouse gas emissions for the state are from heating.”  

The CLCPA also seeks to have 70% of electricity generated by renewables, including major increases in solar power and off-shore wind energy.  The law further states disadvantaged communities should get pollution-reduction and job-creation benefits.  Howarth believes public support has come around.

“People realize climate change is real; they might not realize what an imminent threat it is, significant damage already from unusual weather events.  And that’s only going to get worse over the coming decades.  But I think the bigger issues is that people don’t realize that we have the technical fixes.”    

On the heating front, he says it’s no more expensive to build a home or building with geo-thermal heat or an air-source heat pump than a gas furnace.  Electric cars, buses and trains, are becoming more affordable.  Though he acknowledges time is running short to hit the 2030 goals.  The Climate Action Council is supposed to have an implementation plan by late next year. 

Main goals of the CLCPA for emissions and electricity-generation, as well as environmental justice.
Credit climate.ny.gov