Skip to main Content

The State of New York

The State of New York
19.4 million (2010)
US$1,1 trillion (2010)
United States
The State of New York


With 19 million residents, nearly half of whom live in New York City, this is the USA’s third most populous state and one of its most culturally diverse. It also has some of the most ambitious climate targets in the country.

In 2009, building on earlier legislation, the State passed into a law a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. 

New York Climate Action Council was created to achieve this, taking into account five main policy areas: Buildings and Industry; Transportation and Land Use; Power Supply and Delivery; Agriculture, Forestry and Waste; and Adaptation. The Council is made up of representatives of the Executive Chamber and heads of State agencies.

The Climate Action Plan is currently being formulated by the Council, with the help of technical and policy experts grouped according to the five areas listed above. The interim report released in late 2010 outlined a vision for a low-carbon economy in 2050 and listed the principal factors that need attention in order to bring about the required changes.

At time of writing in mid-2011, no legislation has yet come of the Climate Action Plan but the interim report suggests that widespread adoption of existing or emerging technologies could reduce carbon emissions by the desired amount and transform New York into a world leader in Clean Technology. 

These technologies will likely include a co-ordinated mix of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), low carbon and renewable energy, energy efficiency standards, and CCS. Investment will also be needed to help communities adapt to the effects of climate change.

Current policy includes the “45 by 15” energy plan, in which the State aims to obtain 45% of its energy from renewable sources and energy efficiency by 2015. Aspects of this plan are discussed under the headings below.

As a member of the Climate Registry, New York adheres to external standards for estimating and reporting greenhouse gas emissions.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), a public benefit corporation created in 1975 by the State Legislature, provides analysis and recommends policy for the adoption of renewable fuels, energy efficiency and smart grids.

Current Activities

Energy efficiency

The Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard is intended to help reduce energy demand 15% from forecasted levels by 2015 through energy efficiency programs, particularly the retrofitting of existing buildings and the enforcement of efficiency standards for appliances. In addition the program is expected to save customers and the State Government more than US$4 billion, and will create thousands of jobs. All government buildings must be EnergySTAR rated by 

A Green Buildings Tax Credit Program is a further incentive for energy efficiency. 

The System Benefits Charge program provides investment support for emerging energy efficiency and clean energy technologies. This program also provides targeted energy efficiency services for low-income customers.

Renewable energy

The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires 30% of electricity in New York to come from renewable energy sources by 2015 as a part of the “45 by 15” program. RPS has helped develop over 1300 MW of large and small-scale renewable power through financial incentives.

A Renewable Energy Roadmap created by leading private and public sector figures in 2008 led to the creation of a range of programs to help reduce unnecessary travel, and increase uptake of low-carbon energy and fuel.

Clean transport

New York has adopted the most recent California standards, which would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars by 37% and from light trucks 24% by 2016. The state is also mandated to phase in low-carbon transportation fuels (Executive Order 142).

Sustainable land use

Agriculture, forestry and waste sectors account for a relatively low proportion of the state’s carbon emissions, but the Climate Action Council will recommend policies for sustainable development including biomass conversion; improving land management for maximum carbon uptake; supporting on-site renewable energy and energy efficiency; reduction of food miles; and reducing waste.

Waste management

New York was one of the earliest adopters of recycling legislation in 1988. The state has built on this record with measures to reduce plastic bag waste and hazardous industrial waste. The Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act requires manufacturers to take responsibility for the recycling and safe disposal of their products.

International collaboration

New York is a member of several inter-state and international climate programs, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), an inter-state cap and invest scheme; the Regional Low-Carbon Fuel Standard, an emissions performance standard; and the Transportation and Climate Change Initiative.

Smart cities

A Net Metering program and feed-in tariffs encourage people to sell electricity back to the grid from a wide range of sources.

Since February 2009, the Climate Smart Communities Pledge has been adopted by over 85 New York communities, which includes a ten-point pledge for municipalities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prepare for climate change, and invest in green economies

New York is also a member of the Smart Communities Network


Latest from Twitter