In 2019, New York made significant news when it passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). We’ve discussed the CLCPA and its ongoing implementation before on this blog and how it intends to put New York on a path to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
On December 30, 2020, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), through Commissioner Seggos, announced the finalization of the “Value of Carbon” in an effort to help measure impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. This new guidance and supporting documents will help State agencies estimate the value of reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions in decision-making and will help New York combat climate change.
DEC developed the Value of Carbon guidance in consultation with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the non-profit organization Resources for the Future. The concept is to put a fixed value for the avoided emissions of three greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The 2020 value of carbon dioxide is set at $125 per ton, while methane and nitrous oxide are set at $2,782 and $44,727 per ton, respectively. In other words, the CLCPA values the avoidance of a ton of nitrous oxide—which is some 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and which also depletes the ozone layer—as 357 times more valuable than the value of the avoidance of one ton of carbon dioxide being placed into the environment.
The guidance is not a regulation, however. It does not propose a carbon price, fee, or compliance obligation, but instead is a tool that all State agencies and authorities can use to demonstrate the global societal value of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions based on the social cost of carbon. With these values in hand, policy makes, businesses, and other stakeholders can more easily shape climate change policy under the CLCPA. The guidance, which is available at the DEC’s website, also identifies future areas to address under the CLCPA. These areas will include placing values on other greenhouse gases/air pollutants.
Per the DEC’s December 30, 2020 press release, Commissioner Seggos states, “One of the best ways to explain the urgency of our need to act on climate is to identify the costs and benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As part of Governor Cuomo’s commitment to implementing the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, DEC developed the ‘value of carbon’ metric for State agencies to help reduce climate-altering emissions. Neither New York nor the world can afford to delay taking action to fight climate change.”
The implementation of the CLCPA is ongoing and gathering steady momentum. Just before this most recent announcement, on December 15, 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the finalization of the first greenhouse gas regulations under the CLCPA for carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride. These regulations will establish limits on the statewide emissions of greenhouse gases 40 percent by 2030, and 85 percent by 2050, and emissions associated with imported electricity and fossil fuels.
With these recent announcements, New York continues to take the lead with the country’s most progressive climate action plan.