Powering Strong Communities

N.Y. Energy Sector GHGs Fall As Building, Transportation Sector Emissions Rise

Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the industrial and energy sectors have fallen in New York State, but transportation and building emissions have risen, according to a new report by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Overall, the 2021 Statewide GHG Emissions Report found that 2019 GHG emissions in the state were 6 percent below 1990 levels and 17 percent below 2005 levels.

The report was the first issued by the state and will be produced annually in compliance with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) that commits the state to achieving net zero GHG emissions by 2050.

“This annual report shows that while New York State has reduced emissions from several sectors over the last three decades, emissions from some sectors, including transportation, have increased, revealing that enormous challenges remain in our ongoing work to meet our emission-reduction targets,” Basil Seggos, DEC commissioner and co-chair of the Climate Action Council, said in a statement.

The report found a 46 percent reduction in emissions from electric power generation since 1990 and a 34 percent reduction in industrial sector emissions. Emissions from the transportation and building sectors, however, both increased by 16 percent since 1990, although emissions from both sectors have declined since 2005.

The report also found that while carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions declined 15 percent from 1990 to 2019, hydrofluorocarbons and methane emissions increased during the same period.

In 2019, the report found statewide gross emissions were 379.43 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mmt CO2e). Carbon dioxide and methane comprised the largest portion of emissions, or 58 percent and 35 percent, respectively.

Using the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines, the energy sector was the largest source of emissions at 76 percent, primarily from fuel combustion and fugitive emissions from imported fossil fuels.

Using sectors that reflect the New York State Climate Action Council Draft Scoping Plan, the largest source of emissions in the state is buildings at 32 percent and transportation at 28 percent. In addition, about 8 percent of 2019 emissions were removed, primarily using CO2 sequestration in forests.

Those same guidelines showed a 46 percent decrease in electric sector emissions and a 34 percent decrease in industrial emissions that were offset by a 16 percent increases in both the buildings and transportation sectors. Emissions from the agricultural and waste sectors also increased.

Under Climate Action Council guidelines, emissions from energy fuels are assigned to the sector where the fuels are used such as transportation or electricity generation. Similarly, products that contain hydrofluorocarbons, such as air-conditioning equipment, were assigned to the transportation or buildings sectors.