On December 20, 2021, the New York State Climate Action Council unanimously approved a new draft of its scoping plan to comply with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) of the state. The law was signed into law in 2019 to permanently set increasingly ambitious goals to reduce statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 60% (compared to 1990) d by 2030. The CLCPA also defines procurement mandates for renewable resources:
- 6,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power by 2025
- 70% renewable energy by 2030
- 3,000 MW of energy storage by 2030
- 9,000 MW of offshore wind by 2035
“The Board’s release of the draft blueprint represents an important step in the state’s efforts to implement policies to reduce GHG emissions and achieve the goal of zero GHG emissions by 2040. that the CLCPA sets for the power generation sector,” reports a Greenberg Lexology article. Traurig LLP. “The CLCPA created the Council, a 22-member committee to determine how to achieve these statutory objectives. The Council has also established and consulted with advisory committees and sector working groups to address carbon emissions in areas such as transportation, solid waste and power generation. By preparing and publishing the scoping plan outlining the policy proposals to achieve the stated emissions reduction mandates, the Council fulfilled a key obligation under the CLCPA and laid the foundation for the development of the climate policy of the the state.
A key part of the 861-page draft scoping plan is its plans to address climate justice in its transition to a low-carbon economy. As part of the plan to support disadvantaged communities, the CLCPA created the Climate Working Justice Group (CWJG) within the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The CWJG establishes criteria to define disadvantaged communities while the CLCPA “establishes a community air monitoring program to identify locations to deploy community air monitoring systems, to develop a strategy to reduce emissions of toxic air pollutants and criteria in disadvantaged communities, and to select communities around the state to implement emission reduction programs,” the draft framework plan states. “The Climate Act also requires that state agencies ensure that permits, licenses, contracts and other approvals and decisions do not disproportionately burden disadvantaged communities and prioritize GHG and co-pollutant emission reductions in disadvantaged communities.”
Several key themes of the plan, as summarized by Greenberg Traurig’s article, are:
- “Climate-specific actions will be needed across all sectors, requiring significant investment, especially given the GHG accounting methodology established by the CLCPA.
- Energy efficiency and sector-wide electrification will play a key role in meeting emission reduction criteria. For example, integration analysis (i.e. cost/benefit analysis) conducted in accordance with the CLCPA predicts that zero-emission vehicles and heat pumps will dominate the market by the end of the years. 2020. Thus, consumer awareness and decision-making will be an important factor in achieving GHG emission reduction benchmarks.
- Wind, water and solar will be the primary source of electricity generation across all sectors of New York’s economy by 2050, requiring investments in firm, carbon-free resources and resources energy storage to ensure grid reliability.
- Low-carbon fuels such as renewable natural gas, biofuels and hydrogen should be used strategically in sectors that are more difficult to electrify, such as medium and heavy transport and industrial applications.
- The cost of inaction outweighs the cost of implementing the suite of options set out in the draft plan by at least $90 billion when considering public health impacts and economic costs associated with climate change.
“A key element to be discussed in 2022 is the adoption of economy-wide mechanisms to reduce emissions and finance the programs and initiatives identified in the framework plan, such as a carbon tax / levy, a cap and investment program and a clean energy supply standard,” continues Greenberg Traurig. “In assessing the viability of these proposals, the Board will be faced with the challenge of funding decarbonization across all sectors, while avoiding regressive impacts on consumers, leakage (diversion of GHG emissions outside of the state), and the creation of “hot spots” in disadvantaged communities.”
The draft scoping plan became open to a 120-day comment period on January 1, 2022. The board plans to hold a minimum of 6 public hearings statewide this year and will announce details of those meetings early in This year.