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 York
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
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.
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 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 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 municipal solid waste landfills. In New York, DPS is updating its regulations and ratemaking processes to require gas utilities to accelerate replacements of leak-prone pipelines. DEC is working with other state agencies to develop standards to reduce methane emissions that complement the Federal regulations under development, and is also promoting the reduction and recycling of food waste. In addition, the Climate Resilient Farming Program* through the Department of Agriculture and Markets is working with New York's farming community to reduce emissions.
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:
- Energy/Climate Programs - New York State programs and policies related to climate change.
- Climate Action Plan Interim Report - New York State Climate Action Plan process and Interim Report
- Renewable Energy - Information about the potential for and development of alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, hydropower, tidal power and geothermal.
- The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) - The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, is a cooperative effort by Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions