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Climate Change

Risks and Opportunities for New York

Why the Climate is ChangingImage showing the types of emmission sources and their percentages

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.

Climate Change Impacts 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.

As the earth gets warmer, undesirable climate change impacts will 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.

New York Responds to Climate Change

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

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.

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.

In New York and eight other states, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is promoting a clean-energy future with lower greenhouse gas emissions from electric power generation and savings for electricity customers. RGGI is the first mandatory market-based emissions trading program in the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and the first anywhere to use the cap-and-invest model for reducing pollution.

The Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA) will ensure that certain New York State grant programs, facility-siting regulations and permits take into account climate risk and the effects of extreme weather events. DEC is working with the NYS Department of State and other agencies to develop CRRA guidance, including official New York State sea level rise projections.

The Climate Smart Communities program encompasses a network of over 160 cities, villages, towns and counties working to keep their citizens safe and comfortable in the face of climate change. The program is a state-local partnership that provides assistance and technical resources to meet climate challenges in ways that are consistent with community goals.

More about Climate Change: