Trump's Paris agreement decision won't stop NY climate goals

ALBANY - New York's goal to dramatically cut its greenhouse-gas emissions will continue even if President Trump backs out of the Paris climate agreement.

Trump is scheduled to make an announcement at 3 p.m. Thursday on the country's participation in the 2015 agreement, a wide-ranging, international accord meant to slow rising temperatures across the globe by committing countries to cut pollution.

But even if Trump pulls out of the deal, New York's emission-cutting goals -- which already outpaced the federal goals -- will remain in effect.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce Thursday that the Empire State will remain committed to the goals of the Paris agreement even if the U.S. withdraws.

"If Washington won't act, New Yorkers will," Cuomo, a Democrat, tweeted Wednesday. "We've set bold renewable energy goals and will invest in a sustainable future."

Under the Paris agreement, President Obama's administration committed to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent in the U.S. from 2005 levels by 2025.

New York's climate goals predate the Paris agreement, dating back to a 2009 executive order signed by then-Gov. David Paterson.

Paterson's order set the goal of cutting the state's greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels -- which are lower than 2005 levels -- by 2050.

Since then, the state has set a shorter-term goal of cutting emissions 40 percent and producing 50 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Cuomo's administration bolstered those goals by including them in the state's 2015 energy plan and setting them in state regulations, which give them the power of law.

Jackson Morris, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's eastern energy project, said withdrawing from the Paris agreement is "completely insane" and "bad for our reputation internationally".

But he noted New York and similar states had been investing in energy efficiency projects and renewable energy long before the Paris agreement.

"All that was happening before Paris in states like New York, and all of that is going to keep happening no matter what (Trump) says," Morris said. "I think it's important to recognize that at least mechanically, nothing will change as far as what New York's doing."

New York City, meanwhile, committed to the 80 percent goal in September 2014.

On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he plans to sign an executive order later this week re-committing the city to the Paris agreement.

"We will partner with cities big and small around the country to support them in doing the same," de Blasio said at an event in Brooklyn. "It’s obvious that when our federal government fails us, local governments have to step up. And if cities and towns and counties and states all over the country step up and agree to abide by the Paris Agreement, we can forestall the worst."

 

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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