New York’s 22-member Climate Action Council has released its long-awaited blueprint for how the state can achieve the requirements of the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, or CLCPA.

The CLCPA mandates that New York reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) statewide by 40% by 2030. By the same year, the law mandates that 70% of all electricity generated in New York be renewable.

The Climate Action Council’s blueprint was informed by eight different advisory panels that are comprised of state commissioners, experts and stakeholders.

More on the advisory panels can be found here.

Council member Dr. Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University, discussed the just-released document with Capital Tonight. 

“It lays out the blueprint whereby we can meet these (climate) goals. It’s a realistic plan. It’s an ambitious plan. But it’s a doable plan,” he said. 

While the scoping document addresses transportation, agriculture, land use, power generation, waste, industry and a “Just Transition," the biggest challenge for the state of New York when it comes to GHG emissions is heating buildings.

“A third of the greenhouse gas emissions in the state are coming from heating our homes and our buildings,” Howarth explained. “So we need to move away from fossil fuels and we need to do so aggressively. We need to take up beneficial electrification.”

What Howarth is talking about is replacing the fossil fuels many use to heat their homes with either heat pumps or electricity powered by renewables. 

The CAC’s implementation plan calls for eliminating the use of fossil fuels, including natural gas, oil and propane in any new home construction by 2025. For multi-family homes and commercial buildings, fossil fuels would be prohibited by 2030.  

The plan also calls for an ambitious retrofitting of existing homes. 

“We’ve got 6 million homes in this state that need to be retrofitted, so that’s a challenge,” Howarth said. 

For the next 120 days, the CAC’s draft scoping document is out for public comment. The final plan is scheduled to be released by December 2022.