Study: New York behind on clean energy investments

Dec 15, 2017

A new study argues that New York state leaders needs to substantially ramp up their green investments to protect the climate.

The pro-clean energy coalition New York Renews helped fund the study from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, which finds New York's public and private sectors currently invest $6-7 billion a year into renewables like wind and solar and energy efficiency projects. One of the study's authors Robert Pollin says that needs to increase five fold to about $31 billion a year if New York state is to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions 50 percent by 2030.

"New York state already has very ambitious goals and has a policy infrastructure in place and those are quite favorable developments, the problem is that the level of commitment in terms of funding and regulatory enforcement is just not there," Pollin said. "There’s no way the state is going to get to this 2030 goal unless it gets much more serious about encouraging and supporting private investments  and expanding public investments."

New York's clean energy strategy only calls for reducing those carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent. But Pollin says the state needs to be aggressive since it already missed one green target by failing to generate 29 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2015.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul says the state has been making major investments in clean energy but their efforts are being thwarted by Washington, D.C. Hochul's referring to Republican initiatives on healthcare and tax cuts have threatened to cost New York billions.

"That goal was set in place at the time that we were not dealing with such assaults from Washington," Hochul said. "If reason prevails and they back off of this, we can get back to square one."

New York's finances are also in jeopardy because of a projected $4.4 billion deficit. But Pollin says there are ways to make the investments feasible. He proposes a carbon pollution fee, $35 per carbon ton that will increase to $75 as of 2030.

New York renews plans to push a bill to do just that in the upcoming session of the New York state legislature.