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Climate Change

Risks and Opportunities for New York

The new World Trade Center complex. View from the river.
The soaring One World Trade Center
tower dominates the new World Trade
complex. The center is aiming for
certification as super-efficient.
Photo courtesy of Joe Mabel via
Wikimedia Commons

Climate goals signal a new economic focus

To help minimize risks from climate change, New York State has set two goals:

  • Reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 80 percent from 1990 levels, by the year 2050 ("80 by 50"), and
  • Improve resilience to climate change in all the state's communities.

Working toward these goals already is creating a dynamic new clean energy economy. The 2015 New York State Energy Plan, now being finalized, will help the state move toward clean energy (see energy plan link at right).

A changing climate costs all New Yorkers

Greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel combustion have built up to levels never seen in the atmosphere since the beginning of human society. The heat trapped by these gases already has raised the planet's average temperature and disrupted its climate. And still extraction and burning of coal, oil and gas increase.

As the earth gets warmer, undesirable climate change impacts are likely to outweigh possible benefits. No New Yorker will escape a bill for climate change, paid in economic outlays, threats to human health, and loss of beloved places, resources and activities.

Signs of climate change already are visible in New York

  • Sea levels are rising, worsening the risks from coastal floods and storm surges.
  • Summers have more super-hot days.
  • Diseases typical of warmer climates are appearing here.
  • Intense precipitation events are more common, and so are long dry spells.
  • Winter snow cover is decreasing and spring arrives earlier.
  • Average nighttime temperatures are warming faster than daytimes, a pattern specific to warming from excess greenhouse gases.

Deciding to combat climate change

Choices we make now can reduce our risks while building and diversifying our economy.

  • Emission reduction choices include energy-efficient products, building weatherization and renewable energy generation. All these choices lower New York's greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs and boosting economic vitality.
  • Climate resilience choices mean adapting built and natural environments to withstand new conditions and recover from extreme events. The economic activity this adaptation generates helps to balance some climate-related costs.

State programs are helping New Yorkers benefit from decisions that reduce emissions and improve climate resilience. State plans and projects aim to keep our environment and economy thriving as the climate changes. The Cleaner, Greener Communities program (link on right) provides assistance as localities reduce emissions and improve resilience.

Many local communities are working to keep their citizens safe and comfortable. Already over 160 cities, villages, towns and counties have joined Climate Smart Communities, a state-local partnership to meet climate challenges in ways that are consistent with community goals.

Reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gases and become more resilient

  • Inform yourself about how climate change is affecting the world and your community.
  • Act to cut greenhouse gas emissions by increasing energy efficiency and adopting clean renewable energy.
  • Support programs, policies and actions that reduce emissions and improve climate resilience.

More about Climate Change: