This is one of a series of posts on Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s New York State Green New Deal. As part of his 2019 Justice Agenda he included a “nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda that will put the state on a path to carbon neutrality across all sectors of New York’s economy”.
Not surprisingly there are no details other than the announcement, no mention of potential costs, and no explanation how all this will affect any of the many impacts that he claims are caused by climate change. To date no New York State initiative related to climate has quantified the impact on global warming. This post estimates the impact for the New York Green New Deal mandate for 100 percent clean power by 2040 and eliminating all 2015 emissions from fuel combustion in the state.
In the absence of any official estimate I did my own calculation. I simply adapted data for this emission reduction from the calculations in Analysis of US and State-By-State Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Potential “Savings” In Future Global Temperature and Global Sea Level Rise. This analysis of U.S. and state by state carbon dioxide 2010 emissions relative to global emissions quantifies the relative numbers and the potential “savings” in future global temperature and global sea level rise. These estimates are based on the MAGICC: Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change) so they represent projected changes based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates. All I did in my calculation was to pro-rate the United States impacts by the ratio of New York emissions divided by United States emissions to determine the effects of eliminating all emissions from fuel combustion in New York State as well as the mandate for 100 percent clean power by 2040..
The first step is to quantify NY emissions. The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority prepared the Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2015 which lists historical greenhouse gas emission data from 1990-2015 for New York State’s energy and non-energy sectors. In 2015 the NY total emissions from fuel combustion was 177 million metric. According to that report emissions from electricity generation were 29.1 million metric tons in 2015. The New York impacts were calculated by the ratio of the NY emissions reductions to the US reductions in the report. For example, the NY % of global total emissions equals the % of US global total (17.88%) times the NY Green New Deal goal (29.1) divided by the US emissions (5631.3). Those results are shown in table 2 eliminate 2015 co2 emissions from fuel combustion effect on global warming table 1 ny green new deal clean energy mandate effect on global warming. table 2 eliminate 2015 co2 emissions from fuel combustion effect on global warming lists the results for eliminating all 2015 GHG emissions from fuel combustion.
These calculations show current growth rate in CO2 emissions from other countries of the world will quickly subsume New York total emissions much less any reductions in New York CO2 emissions. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and based on trends in CO2 emissions growth will subsume all of New York’s 2015 fuel combustion emissions in 81 days. Furthermore, using assumptions based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports we can estimate the actual impact to global warming for fuel combustion emissions. The ultimate impact of the 177 million metric tons on projected global temperature rise would be a reduction, or a “savings,” of approximately 0.0026°C by the year 2050 and 0.0054°C by the year 2100. The clean energy by 2040 mandate effect on projected global temperature rise would be a reduction, or a “savings,” of approximately 0.00043°C by the year 2050 and 0.00089°C by the year 2100.
These small numbers have to be put in context. First consider temperature measuring guidance. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Requirements and Standards for NWS Climate Observations states that: “The observer will round the entered data to whole units Fahrenheit”. The nearest whole degree Fahrenheit (0.55°C) is over two hundred times greater than the projected change in temperature in 2050.
Although this change is too small to measure I am sure some will argue that there will nonetheless be some effect on the purported impacts. However if these numbers are put into perspective of temperatures we routinely feel then that argument seems hollow. For example, in Syracuse NY the record high temperature is 102°F and the record low temperature is -26°F so the difference is 128 °F which is over 27,000 times greater than the predicted change in temperature in 2050. The annual seasonal difference ranges from the highest daily average of 71.6°F to the lowest daily average of 23.2°F, or a difference of 48.4°F which is over 10,000 times greater than the predicted change in temperature in 2050. The average difference between the average daily high and average daily low temperature is 10.4°F or nearly 4,000 times greater than the predicted change in temperature in 2050. In order to give you an idea of how small this temperature change consider changes with elevation and latitude. Generally, temperature decreases three (3) degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 foot increase in elevation above sea level. The projected temperature difference is the same as going down 39 inches. The general rule is that temperature changes three (3) degrees Fahrenheit for every 300 mile change in latitude at an elevation of sea level. The projected temperature change is the same as going south 1.0 miles.
I do not think that there is any question why the State has not provided a quantitative estimate of the impact on global warming from the Green New Deal, REV or any other New York State initiative related to climate change. Clearly we can expect no discernable impact. The calculated values provided in this post are based on the “consensus” estimates of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which I personally believe over-estimate the impact of temperature changes caused by greenhouse gas emissions but do represent the justification for the New York Green New Deal. As shown claiming any observable impacts for the projected small change in temperature due to these emissions reductions is a stretch at best.