New York lawmakers have agreed to hold a sweeping climate plan that encourages the state to all but eliminates its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and envisages an era in which gas-damping cars, oil-burning furnaces and furnaces will be phased out and the entire state's electricity would come from carbon-free sources.
According to an agreement this week between legislators and governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the climate management law and the Community protection law would require the state to beat its planet-heating pollution 85 percent below the 1990 level by 2050 and compensate the remaining 1
If the state manages to hit these targets, it would effectively create a so-called net zero economy, the ultimate goal of environmentalists and others trying to speed global warming.
Many democratic states have adopted laws designed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in response to the ongoing efforts of the Trump administration to loosen or abandon environmental regulations on power plants and vehicles.
But New York's bill, which comes from a number of democratic presidential candidates proposing net-zero targets for the United States, would put one of the most ambitious climate targets of a legislator around the world.
"This undoubtedly puts New York in a global leadership position," says Jesse Jenkins, an energy expert and postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.
The challenges of achieving such goals are frightening. New York has so far only managed to reduce its emissions by 8 percent between 1990 and 2015, according to the latest state inventory.
"New Yorkers will pay a lot for their electricity because of this bill," said Gavin Donohue, president of the independent power producers in New York, whose members produce about three-quarters of the state's electricity. "There is no doubt about that."
There are also many questions about whether energy, real estate and business can adapt in 2050 and how much it would cost. Business groups in the state had emptied the bill as impractical and potentially catastrophic for companies forced to move to green energy sources.
The bill requires New York to get 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydropower by 2030 and change completely to carbon-free electricity a decade later.
But every corner of the state's economy must be drastically cleaner, including industrial facilities, heating for homes and offices and the transport system, including approx. 10 million cars, trucks and buses.
New York currently produces around 60 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources, mainly from hydroelectric and nuclear power plants with low wind and solar power. To help meet its new goals, the state plans to build massive offshore wind turbines, ramp up on solar heating and install large new batteries to juggle all the renewable energy.
But transport, which accounts for one third of the state's emissions, will be more difficult to tackle. The Trump administration seeks to roll back federal vehicle efficiency rules and prevent states like New York from setting their own stricter standards.
And about a quarter of New York's emissions come from homes and commercial buildings that typically burn natural gas or fuel oil for heating. Most of these systems will need to be updated to run on carbon-free electricity or renewable gas.
While New York City recently passed a law requiring its largest skyscrapers to become more energy efficient, the new law could mean retrofitting thousands of buildings across the country. For building owners to just comply with the city's law, the estimated price exceeded $ 4 billion.
"It'll be a big lift," says Michael Gerrard, director of Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.
He noted that technology to curb emissions from certain sectors, such as cement plants or aircraft, is still in its infancy. To compensate for these sources, the state may need to pursue methods to remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as tree planting, wetlands restoration, or carbon anxiety.
If the measure is allowed, New York will join California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington, which have all passed bills aimed at getting 100 percent of their electricity from carbon-free sources – like f .g. Wind, solar, hydropower dams and in some cases nuclear power – at midcentury or earlier.
In September, Jerry Brown, then the outgoing California governor, signed an executive order aimed at making the entire state's economy carbon neutral by 2045, even though it has not been approved by the legislator.
Mr. Donohue, from the independent power producers in New York, said that while government bills had "some legitimate goals", there was "not much detail on how to get there."
The bill, which was expected to come to a vote before the state broadcast as early as Tuesday night, is the latest and perhaps most far-reaching implementation for a newly elected democratic majority in Albany, including a coterie of new progressive legislators, for whom the fight against climate change is high priority.
The bill had previously passed the democratically-dominated state assembly three times before it went down into the Republican-led Senate. But Norway's blue wave changed the power balance in Albany, although climate activists began to demand action at state level.
"This will change the way each New Yorker lives," said Prime Minister Todd Kaminsky, the bill's sponsor in Albany's upper chamber. "We need to derive our power from clean energy sources, drive our cars into renewable energy and go to work in non-carbon-emitting buildings."
It would also be the first major legislation of representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez home state to include elements of the Green New Deal, including the plan's emphasis on using environmental legislation to help low-income communities.
New York's bill would penetrate hundreds of millions of dollars into economically disadvantaged areas around the state, especially those that have been destroyed by pollution and other industrial by-products.
For supporters, the bill added some assurance that past environmental orders from the governor did not. "They do not live and die on an executive's whims," said Peter M. Iwanowicz, executive director of environmental lawyers in New York.
The passage of the bill would be the culmination of years of activism by groups such as New York Renews, a coalition of nearly 200 organizations that repeatedly met in Albany and pushed politicians to act. These officials included Mr Cuomo, who said earlier this month that he had doubts about the climate legislation, "to set goals and dates that we cannot do."
"I think climate change is the question of our lifetime, honestly," said the governor, a third democratic democrat. "And the legacy we leave our children."
The bill codified several initiatives by Mr Cuomo from earlier this year to law, including greatly increasing New York's offshore wind targets, solar installation and energy storage.
The followers said Mandates handed out would likely require a large workforce to appreciate homes, switch furnaces and install solar panels and build wind farms and other clean energy infrastructure.
"This new law will stimulate the growth of green jobs throughout the state for decades," said Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters.
But Greg Biryla, the New York director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the bill offered few details on how small businesses working on small margins would smooth their production and other operations.
"There doesn't seem to be a fiscal impact statement for something that aims to reinvent our state's economy," he said, adding that it would inevitably lead businesses to migrate elsewhere. "This just makes other states that are much more attractive to investment."
Nuts and bolts on how to implement the plan would be left to a 22-person "climate action council" consisting of top state employees covering a range of issues such as health, economic development, energy, labor and the environment and advised by smaller working groups. expertise in everything from land use to forestry.
The Council would be obliged to issue recommendations on how to achieve the objectives in two years, after which state regulatory agencies would issue rules to force industries and residents to comply with the standards outlined in the bill.
Alphonso David, the adviser to Mr Cuomo, said that while the aggressive targets could lead to measures to curb gas-powered cars or ineffective stoves, nobody knew how exactly the state would get there.
"There is new technology we discover every single day," said Mr. David. "We can talk about a completely different world in terms of how we think of cars, how we think of planes and how we think of gasoline."