New York State passes ambitious anti-carbon law

New York State on Wednesday approved one of the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction laws on the planet, in opposition to climate denial by Donald Trump, who finished burying the same day the Barack Obama’s anti-coal plan.

The European Union, France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand, California are some of the jurisdictions to have set themselves the goal of being carbon neutral by the middle of the century – but most have not yet adopted binding legislation.

The text adopted by the New York State Parliament (20 million inhabitants), led by Democrats, plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050, compared to 1990 ( in 2015, the state was only down 8%).

In an effort to achieve a carbon neutral footprint, legislators also provide incentives for the remaining 15% of emissions to be offset.

This means that within thirty years, most thermal power plants will no longer be able to burn natural gas or coal, and that the majority of vehicles on the roads will have to be electric or zero-emission – not counting heating. housing or the energy used by factories.

“While Washington stands idly by, New York is showing the way,” said Democratic Senator Todd Kaminsky, one of the main architects of the law.

The state has set itself an intermediate objective of reducing climate pollution by 40% by 2030, again compared to 1990.

And by 2040, 100% of its electricity must be carbon-free. The State is already well advanced in this objective, a large part of the electricity now coming from nuclear (28%) and hydraulic (16%), natural gas representing 35%. Solar and wind power are currently negligible.

The New York law, negotiated between Governor Andrew Cuomo and the two houses of the local parliament, both with a Democratic majority since January, illustrates the rapid adhesion of the entire American left, and in particular of the candidates for the White House, to the principle of a “New Green Deal”, in order to switch the American economy towards clean energies while promoting the creation of “good jobs”.

Other green laws in the country

In the United States, New York is joining California and other Democratic-ruled states in making up for climate inaction by the US federal government.

Donald Trump initiated the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate agreement, signed in 2015. This resulted in the repeal of several regulations adopted during the eight years of the Obama presidency.

Barack Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” aimed to speed up the shutdown of coal-fired power stations by setting limits for polluting gas emissions. Blocked in court, it never came into force, and Donald Trump decided to replace him when he came to power.

Since then, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to draft new, less restrictive regulations. EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a speech on Wednesday that the process was complete. The document has not been released.

But this pro-coal plan should not by itself halt the decline of coal, which has been engaged for several years in favor of natural gas and renewable energies.

“The Trump administration’s attempt to resuscitate an obsolete industry like coal is proving futile: since it took office, more than 50 coal-fired power stations have closed,” said a Beyond Carbon campaign official, funded by New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who wants to spend $ 500 million of his fortune to complete coal in the United States by 2030.

In total, at least 289 power stations have started their closure since 2010, according to the environmental NGO Sierra Club, or 40% of the electricity production capacity of coal-fired power stations.

With Ivan Couronne (Agence France-Presse) in Washington

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