When the Climate Act eliminates New York’s greenhouse gas emissions the effect on global warming will not be measurable. The expected impact on global warming is only 0.01°C by the year 2100. More importantly, New York’s emissions will be subsumed in a matter of months by countries in the developing world building their energy systems with reliable and affordable fossil fuels. To deny those countries the benefits of plentiful electricity is immoral.
New York State has never estimated the effect on global warming for any greenhouse gas emission reduction program or in any decision on fossil fuel infrastructure permits. This page documents the potential effects of the Climate Act on global warming itself.
For this analysis I simply adapted 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 to estimate the potential effect. 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 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 different New York inventory emissions divided by United States emissions to determine the effects of a complete cessation of all New York’s emissions.
The following table shows that for the Climate Act Part 496 inventories there would be a reduction, or a “savings,” of between approximately 0.0097°C and 0.0081°C by the year 2100. To give you an idea of how small these temperature changes are 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 for all the greenhouse gases is the same as a 39-inch change. 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 a change in latitude of less than a mile.
Sea-level rise is often considered an inevitable consequence of global warming. Similar to the temperature change the effect on sea level is so small (0.1 cm in 2100) that it is imperceptible.
Developing World Emissions
The Climate Act should also be considered relative to the rest of the world. According to the China Electricity Council, about 29.9 gigawatts of new coal power capacity was added in 2019 and a further 46 GW of coal-fired power plants are under construction. If you assume that the new coal plants are super-critical units with an efficiency of 44% and have a capacity factor of 80%, the reductions provided by the CLCPA greenhouse gas inventory will be replaced by the added 2019 Chinese capacity in less than two years or four and a half years if the 2019 capacity and the units under construction are combined.
NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the Africa Energy Chamber, spoke for much of Africa when he noted, that:
The threat of climate change is real, and the goal of lessening it is noble, but what is often forgotten in these discussions are the repercussions of a rapid shift from fossil fuels, particularly in developing nations like those in Africa. Countries that have enjoyed over a century of energy development and near-universal electrification did so first by exploiting their own natural resources to the fullest extent possible — a right not everyone has been able to exercise equally. While the developed world can afford to take risks and think about sloughing off old industries, large parts of Africa are still struggling to provide their people with reliable electricity. As a result, industrialization and economic stability have remained out of reach for large swaths of the continent. Education, already a challenge in impoverished communities, is even harder. So is the provision of health care.