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New York to approve one of the world's most ambitious climate plans



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

5 percent, possibly through measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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.

"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.

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."


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