Climate Reality New York Coalition Helps Pass Landmark Building Electrification Legislation
In the race to slash greenhouse gas emissions, the obvious first move is to tackle the biggest contributors. But while – for most people – this means focusing on power plants and vehicles, there's another major driver of global warming that can go under the radar. Chances are, you're in one right now.
According to data from Climate TRACE, buildings were the sixth-largest contributor to global emissions in 2021 (excluding forestry and land use). All the heating, cooling, lights, and more we depend on can end up generating significant emissions. Get these numbers down by replacing gas and oil-fired technologies with electric alternatives and we can take a huge step forward on the road to net-zero.
That's why our New York Climate Reality chapters joined a coalition called Renewable Heat Now, which is comprised of local climate organizations working to accelerate a just transition to clean energy. The coalition’s main focus is on residential and corporate building electrification, advocating for the adoption of energy-saving technologies like heat pumps. The opportunity is huge – emissions from homes and businesses account for approximately 30% of statewide greenhouse gas emissions in New York.
Renewable Heat Now organized around three priority bills in the most recent legislative session, which concluded in June: the All Electric Buildings Act, the HEAT Act, and the Energy Efficiency, Equity and Jobs Act. Together, these bills represent a comprehensive plan to provide affordable clean energy to citizens across New York and achieve the state’s 2030 goal of at least a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels.
New York Climate Reality chapter volunteers worked to build the popular support to get the bills passed, organizing calling and letter-writing campaigns. They worked with the rest of Renewable Heat Now to develop a toolkit explaining the benefits of each bill along with their 2023 Budget Proposals.
Their hard work paid off when the All Electric Buildings Act passed the state senate in early May, representing the first statewide ban on fossil fuels in most new buildings by 2026. While there are some exceptions to the ban- such as a stipulation allowing buildings larger than seven stories tall to come into compliance by 2029, it could result in an estimated 4 million metric tons of CO2 by saved by 2040.
The All Electric Buildings Act also includes a measure requiring the state government to fund the construction of new renewable energy infrastructure if private companies are unable to meet the demands of this transition. This has the potential to create thousands of green jobs and further protect citizens from surging energy prices.
Additionally, the HEAT Act “will enable New Yorkers to enjoy modern, clean heating and cooling systems,” says Jessica Azulay, Executive Director of Alliance for a Green Economy and a major figure in Renewable Heat Now. “And with low- and moderate-income New Yorkers currently paying 10% of their income and rising on utility bills, it will create a sorely needed cap on bills that saves those New Yorkers an average of $75 a month.”
These bills will help New Yorkers take a huge bite out of carbon pollution, create a healthier and more sustainable home, and save money on clean technologies. Now, it’s time to push for similar measures across the rest of the US.
Ready to make a difference in your community? Connect with the Climate Reality chapter close to you.