New York Bill Introduced To Eliminate Greenhouse Gases By 2050

As reported by UtilityDIVE, a dozen New York lawmakers have introduced a bill aimed at codifying Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s climate change goals, including a 100% reduction in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050.

“This is, quite simply, one of the strongest, smartest, and most thoughtful pieces of climate legislation the public has ever seen. It may be the best in the country, and we roundly applaud Speaker Heastie, Assemblyman Englebright, and their colleagues for taking the aspirational goals outlined in Governor Cuomo’s State Energy Plan and providing the blueprint for achieving them,” said Peter Iwanowicz, Executive Director, Environmental Advocates of New York.

NY state capitol CU
New York state capitol in Albany

If passed, the bill would require electric utilities in the state to source 27% of their generation capacity from renewables in 2017, 30%  by 2020, 40% by 2025, and 50% by 2030. 

Under the bill, the state would have to cut GHG emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 80% by 2045 on the way to a complete phase-out by 2050. This means, if the bill were to pass, the electricity sector would be ordered to completely eliminate GHG emissions by mid-century.

Backgrounder on greenhouse gases

greenhouse gas emissions 2014
Total Emissions in 2014 = 6,870 Million Metric Tons of CO2 equivalent

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are referred to as greenhouse gases. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and the entire family of flourinated gases.

Each of these gases can remain in the atmosphere for different amounts of time, ranging from a few years to thousands of years. All of these gases remain in the atmosphere long enough to become well mixed, meaning that the amount that is measured in the atmosphere is roughly the same all over the world, regardless of the source of the emissions.

The bill stems from proposals in Gov. Cuomo’s New York State Energy Plan, a non-binding roadmap released last June to guide the state toward making deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and deploying more renewables and distributed energy resources. 

New York State Energy Plan

“The New York State Energy Plan sets forth a vision for New York’s energy future that connects a vibrant private sector market with communities and individual customers to create a dynamic, clean energy economy.

“The Plan is divided into two volumes and guided by statutory requirements of Article 6 of the Energy Law. The first volume contains actionable policy recommendations and analyses to guide the State’s efforts to advance new energy technologies that foster an innovative clean energy economy.

“The second volume addresses energy use, its sources and impacts, and provides detailed background that was used to develop the overarching vision and initiatives in the first volume. In addition, the second volume provides forecasts for energy supply and demand, a statewide inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, environmental and public health impacts associated with energy production and use, and vulnerabilities of the energy system.”

Although this law may seem extreme to some, codifying steps like this are becoming necessary to effectively deal with eliminating greenhouse gas emissions in a timely manner, which for many others, does not come close to soon enough.

Images via Shutterstock and the EPA

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