Report: New York leadership critical foundation for an international agreement on climate

Media Contacts
Heather Leibowitz

Environment New York Research and Policy Center

New York, NY – New York is poised to play a major role in U.S. progress to address climate change, a new report said today. In the next decade, the state will cut more global warming pollution than all but California and Texas. 

The Environment New York Research & Policy Center report comes as pressure mounts on the U.S. to play a leading role in negotiations for an international climate agreement in Paris.

“The best way to lead is by example,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York. “With New York’s help, that’s just what we are doing. Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced an ambitious plan to curb New York State’s carbon emissions by 40 percent by doubling the amount of power it gets from renewable energy to 50 percent, by 2030.”

The analysis, Path to the Paris Climate Conference: American Progress in Cutting Carbon Pollution Could Pave the Way for Global Action, documents expected carbon pollution reductions from existing state-level and federal policies by 2025, including renewable energy standards, fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and regional and state-based carbon caps.

“Mayor de Blasio and the City Council are working diligently to reduce carbon pollution within New York City through the One NYC plan, but we can only do so much without the help of policy at the state and federal level,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “That’s why it is a pleasure to have partners at all levels of government who are making serious commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to clean energy sources.”

The report shows that state and federal policies underway across the country can reduce carbon pollution 27 percent below 2005 levels.

The biggest slice of these reductions will come from the Clean Power Plan, the proposed federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, which is expected to be finalized this summer. The plan requires more than a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in New York, and compels state leaders to accelerate the transition to clean energy sources such as wind and solar.

“Most Americans understand that we need to reduce our climate change emissions, and want to, but don’t know how this can be accomplished,” said Dr. George D. Thurston, Professor of Environmental Medicine and Population Health NYU School of Medicine. “This report shows how the States can achieve, and already have been successfully achieving, the reductions needed, providing a path forward for the nation and the world.”

However, fossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress are trying to block the Clean Power Plan, with full House and two key Senate panels voting this month to derail it.

“America can’t lead with polluters and climate deniers blocking the way,” said Leibowitz. “That’s why we’re grateful to our state leaders, who continue to defend the Clean Power Plan against attack, and who continue to raise the bar on climate action.”

To avoid devastating impacts of climate change, scientists estimate that an 80 percent cut in global warming pollution will be necessary by mid-century. As the report notes, a more rapid transition to clean energy sources, beyond those already required by existing policies, will be required to achieve these levels.

“New York is poised to play a major role in American progress to cut global warming pollution,” said Leibowitz. “We must build on that progress to ensure a better, healthier future for our climate and our children.