New York lawmakers have agreed to pass a sweeping climate plan that could help the state achieve a net-zero economy in which all energy is drawn from carbon-free sources by 2050. “The bill would require New York to get 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and by 2050, the state would have to cut emissions by at least 85 percent below 1990 levels,” reports New York Magazine. “To offset the remainder, the state would enact measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, like mass tree-planting and the restoration of wetlands.” From the report: The bill, if passed, would be one of the world’s most ambitious climate plans, made more impressive by the size of New York’s economy. If the state were its own country, its economy would be the 11th largest in the world, falling between those of Canada and South Korea. “This unquestionably puts New York in a global leadership position,” Jesse Jenkins, an energy expert and postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, told the New York Times.
Of course, energy costs will go up in pursuit of the goal. New York gets around 60 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources — primarily an energy mix of hydroelectric and nuclear power. To make up the difference, the state will invest in large-scale offshore wind farms and rooftop solar projects. More challenging than the electric grid is the heat for homes and commercial buildings, which generally burn natural gas or oil, and take up around a quarter of the state’s emissions. In New York City, for example, an April law requiring skyscrapers to retrofit to meet new energy standards is expected to cost building owners over $4 billion. The bill also marks the first major piece of legislation to include aspects of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, routing hundreds of millions of dollars into polluted or environmentally vulnerable areas of the state in an attempt at both economic and environmental revival.