Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Mitigation of Climate Change

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Note: links followed by an asterisk (*) leave the DEC website

Sources of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) in New YorkMain Source of Greenhouse Gases in NYS

Efforts over the past decade to reduce emissions from the power sector have made New York's electricity some of the cleanest in the nation, and now transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New York. The State is also working to reduce GHG (including methane and hydrofluorocarbons) emissions from buildings, food waste, and other sources outside the power and transportation sectors.

NY Emissions Reduction Goals

New York's State Energy Plan*, along with private sector innovation and investment fueled by Governor Cuomo's Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) policy, aims to achieve the following clean energy goals by 2030:

  • 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels
  • 50% of energy generation from renewable energy sources
  • 23% decrease in energy consumption in buildings from 2012 levels

Power Sector

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory market-based emissions trading program in the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and the first anywhere to use the cap-and-invest model for reducing pollution. Together the nine RGGI states set a cap for total emissions of CO2 from electric generation facilities in the region. Each state implements the program through its own regulation, which include emissions caps (or CO2 Budgets) in individual RGGI participating states that are equal to shares of the regionwide cap. The RGGI cap declines over time, gradually tightening emission limits.

Governor Cuomo's Clean Energy Standard will require 50% of New York State's electricity to be sourced from renewable energy sources by 2030. The state promotes renewable energy through its Large Scale Renewables Program, NY-Sun* Initiative, shared renewables and community net metering projects, and the Offshore Wind Blueprint.

Transportation Sector

The transportation sector is the source of 34% of New York's greenhouse gas emissions, and growing. The state is tackling transportation sector emissions by focusing on using clean fuels, expanding public transportation systems, and increasing availability of clean fuel infrastructure in support of low- and zero-emission vehicles (ZEV).

New York is working through the Transportation and Climate Initiative* (TCI), a regional collaboration of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic jurisdictions, on developing programs and policies that support regional clean transportation goals. New York is also a member of the Multi-State ZEV Task Force*, and the Charge NY* initiative seeks to create a statewide network of up to 3,000 public and workplace charging stations, and put 40,000 plug-in vehicles on the road, by 2020.

NYSDEC is currently offering municipal rebates through its Title 15 Climate Smart Communities funding in the Environmental Protection Fund for purchase of ZEVs and installation of ZEV infrastructure.

Buildings

Buildings consume roughly 60% of total energy used in New York State. Energy efficiency (both electric and thermal) is therefore a powerful tool in achieving the State's GHG reduction goals. Key programs in achieving these goals include New York Power Authority's BuildSmart NY program, NYSERDA's home and commercial energy efficiency programs, and multi-agency efforts to promote combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration.

Other Greenhouse Gases

Methane

Methane is emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from livestock and other agricultural practices and by the decay of organic waste in landfills. In New York, the Methane Reduction Plan (PDF, 420 KB) outlines actions the state will implement to reduce methane emissions. New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Agriculture and Markets, Public Service, and the Energy Research and Development Authority, in conjunction with the Soil and Water Conservation Committee, are implementing these actions.

The plan will address many sources of methane emissions including:

  • Pursue methane reductions at both active and inactive landfills;
  • Limit methane emissions from new and existing equipment in the oil and gas infrastructure;
  • Support energy production or capture and combustion of methane gas at farms and landfills;
  • Develop methane reduction criteria in state funding programs for agriculture;
  • Deploy methane detection systems to enhance detection of leaks in residential areas; and
  • Utilize incentive programs for addressing methane leakage in utility and customer-owned pipelines that prioritize safety and climate change mitigation.

These actions work in concert with ongoing activities to promote the reduction and recycling of food waste, and the Climate Resilient Farming Program* through the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

The United Nations reports that 98% of ozone-depleting substances have been phased out of usage worldwide since the ratification of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, however, these substances are being replaced primarily by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), some of which are extremely potent greenhouse gases. Global HFC emissions are currently rising 10-15% annually and the USEPA considers HFCs to be the fastest growing source of GHG emissions in the United States. New York is working to inventory and develop appropriate policies to manage and reduce HFC emissions.


More about Mitigation of Climate Change: