This summer, New York continued its climate leadership by enacting one of the country’s most ambitious state climate laws. New York’s new law invigorates the momentum for individual states to adopt ambitious state environmental legislation and policies. State policies amass great weight on their own, but they also spur bolder action in clean energy and efficiency from businesses and utilities.
The New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), passed and signed into law on July 18, sets a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To accomplish this goal, the new law requires a statewide 85 percent reduction from 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, allowing the remainder to come from carbon offsets.
A consistent climate leader
New York has been an environmental policy leader for a long time. The 2019 CLCPA builds on a suite of increasingly ambitious regulations, standards, and initiatives since 2004. Key examples include:
- 2004: Implemented its first renewable portfolio standard (RPS), requiring 25 percent of electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2013.
- 2005: Joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – a cap-and-trade program to limit carbon dioxide from the power sector.
- 2010: Adopted a stricter RPS, requiring 30 percent of electricity to come from renewable energy sources.
- 2014: Launched Reforming the Energy Vision – a comprehensive strategy to build, strengthen and modernize New York’s energy system. The REV 2030 goals include a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 40 percent 1990 levels by 2030, and proposed 70 percent of the state electricity come from renewable sources by 2030.
- 2016: Adopted one of the first clean energy standards (CES) in the country. The CES mandates 50 percent of electricity sales to come from renewable energy sources by 2030.
New York is not alone in raising the bar on climate policies. Other states have also set ambitious targets and adopted stricter policies to tackle climate change. For example, 34 states (including New York) and the District of Columbia have developed comprehensive roadmaps to address greenhouse gas emissions across the economy through their respective state climate action plans. These plans set climate goals and implementation strategies suited for different sectors, and identify available financial resources. They also track progress toward a state’s goal so that the it can alter its strategy if needed.
To mitigate climate change, 23 states and D.C. have enacted greenhouse gas emissions targets. Moreover, some states have implemented clean and renewable energy standards: 29 states and D.C. require their electric utilities to deliver a certain amount of electricity from renewable or clean energy sources.