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Climate Change

New Yorkers are Working on Many Fronts

The new World Trade Center complex. View from the river.
The new World Trade Center complex
in New York City, dominated by the
soaring One World Trade Center tower
and the recently opened 9/11 Memorial,
is aiming for LEED Gold certification
as super-efficient buildings with myriad
advanced environmental features. The
net zero complex will display the modern
technologies of green design that
helped New York rebuild after the
destruction of 9/11. Photo courtesy of
Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Achieving these goals requires a dynamic clean energy economy. The 2014 Draft New York State Energy Plan, now released for public input, charts a path toward clean energy and the economic opportunities it opens for New Yorkers. To participate, follow the Energy Plan link at right.

A changing climate costs all New Yorkers

Already, signals of climate change are visible in New York:

  • Winter snow cover is decreasing and spring comes (on average) a week or so earlier than it did a few decades ago.
  • Even when the weather is cold, average nighttime temperatures are measurably warmer than was usual in the past.
  • Sea levels are rising, increasing the risks of coastal floods and damaging storm surges.
  • Summers have more super-hot days.
  • Both intense precipitation events and long dry spells are becoming more common.
  • Diseases typical of warmer climates are appearing.

Scientists and economists say that as the earth gets warmer, undesirable climate change impacts will significantly outweigh apparent benefits, both in economic cost and in damage to our way of life.

Deciding to combat climate change

New York has opportunities now to make energy and climate choices that will reduce our risk while opening powerful opportunities for economic development and diversification.

  • Emission reduction choices: Energy-efficient products, building weatherization and renewable energy generation are showing that they can lower New York's greenhouse gas emissions while employing thousands in jobs that cannot be offshored.
  • Climate resilience choices: Resilience to a changing climate means adapting both built and natural environments to new conditions. The economic activity that communities, institutions and businesses generate as they prepare themselves for these changes will help to balance climate-related costs.

State programs are helping New Yorkers to identify the right climate decisions. Cleaner, Greener Communities supports local planning and projects that will keep our environment and economy thriving in a time of climate change. The state Climate Action Plan Interim Report identifies how state government and key economic sectors can reduce emissions and respond to climate change. Energy/Climate Solutions gives more detail and links to these and other key climate and energy programs.

Climate Smart Communities is a state-local partnership to meet climate challenges. Already more than 120 climate smart cities, villages, towns and counties are reducing emissions and adapting to climate change in ways consistent with their community goals. Foresighted planning and action are saving taxpayer dollars, creating vibrant, desirable places to live and work and marking climate smart communities as good places to invest for the future -- of special interest for renewable energy, energy efficiency, weatherization and other "green" businesses and jobs.

New Yorkers and climate change

You can help reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gases and make your community more resilient.

  • Inform yourself about how climate change is affecting the world and your community, and what actions can improve our climate future.
  • Conserve energy and increase energy efficiency in your home, workplace or school.
  • Support programs and policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote climate resilience.

More about Climate Change:

  • Climate Change in New York - Information on climate change impacts in New York and the northeastern US.
  • Climate Action Planning - New York State Climate Action Plan process and Interim Report
  • Why the Climate is Changing - New York bases its climate policies on scientific studies and on interpretations of this data that analyze the local consequences of ever-rising greenhouse gas concentrations and our changing climate.
  • Energy/Climate Solutions - New York State programs and policies related to climate change.
  • Climate Smart Communities - Guide for cities, towns, villages and counties that want to combat climate change and boost a green economy.
  • Climate Change Information Resources - Places to look for further information on climate change
  • Sea Level Rise - Assessed impacts to the state's coastlines from rising seas and developed recommendations for protective and adaptive measures. The Task Force delivered its final report to the Legislature on December 31, 2010.
  • Climate Change and Health - This page provides offsite links to other state and federal agencies that address the effect of climate change on public health.
  • The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative - The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, is a cooperative effort by Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions