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  • Baher A.

2050: New York City ambitious to cut 80% greenhouse gas

Later City News: New York City (NYC) has set an ambitious goal of 80% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction relative to 2005 levels by 2050.



A recently published paper by 'Nature Energy' journal highlighted that Integrated urban energy–economy–climate scenarios can be built upon bottom-up models that simulate realistic system interactions. One such model for New York shows how electrification of the vehicle fleet and grid decarbonization can reduce carbon emissions and pollution.

Steven J. Smith the author of this paper reiterated that GHG emissions from NYC in 2019 are about equally distributed between road vehicles, natural gas use in buildings and industry, and emissions from electric power generation (from both within and outside the city limits).

Reducing GHG emissions by 80% will require reductions across all sectors. Writing in Nature Energy, Mine Isik et al. present various plausible scenarios for this emission reduction, examining the cost and air pollutant emission implications of reducing net CO2 emissions.

They find that reducing carbon emissions by increasing the number of electric cars and by decarbonizing the grid will have significant positive co-benefits in terms of pollution reduction.

Isik et al. use an energy systems model to examine emission reduction pathways for NYC focusing on the transportation sector and its interaction with the electricity sector.

The study demonstrates how system-level models at the city scale can show how systems such as transportation, electricity grid, and building energy interact to affect energy consumption, cost, and emissions. NYC already has relatively low transportation energy demand per capita and emissions compared to other US cities due to large subway ridership. The largest source (83%) of GHG emissions from NYC’s transportation sector are private vehicles.

Hence electrification of the private vehicle fleet can be a significant step towards meeting emission reduction goals. However, one characteristic of many American cities, including New York, is that net environmental impacts often depend on policy decisions being made and implemented at the state level.

A key determinant in total GHG emissions in NYC is the carbon intensity of the regional electric grid from which much of NYC’s electricity is obtained. Policies that support electrification at the city level can, therefore, only go so far towards achieving emission reduction goals.