The effects of carbon emissions on public health and climate change are indisputable.
New York State’s economy accounts for one out of every 230 tons of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted anywhere in the world, meaning New Yorkers can show the path forward for dramatically reducing carbon emissions—even in the face of federal inaction. The impact of carbon emissions are far reaching and pose a serious threat to all, specifically those economically vulnerable and those experiencing social inequality.
The link between respiratory issues and COVID-19, which has attacked people with pre-existing health conditions the hardest, shows just how important reducing pollution and improving air quality are to protecting public health, especially in times of crisis. We’ve seen the “social cost of carbon” more recently than ever before with the outpouring of cases of asthma and cancer in minority groups, young children and the elderly. Our most vulnerable populations, such as seniors and low-income communities of color, are already disproportionately affected by climate-influenced health issues and face the most exposure to dirty air due to their proximity to fossil fuel plants.
Additionally, excess carbon emissions have left our environment unstable, resulting in extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy, polar vortexes, and extreme highs and lows during the summer and winter months. We have an obligation to future generations to take serious measures to reduce our carbon emissions if we want to see an environment sustainable for human life.
Valuing the social cost of carbon in New York’s wholesale electricity markets will:
- Accelerate decarbonization of New York’s generation fleet and its imported electricity;
- Improve public health, especially downstate, by moving away from the most dangerous carbon-emitting generators;
- Accelerate entry of new renewable projects, particularly in areas currently served by fossil units, including in vulnerable communities downstate;
- Create stronger economic incentives for cost-effective transmission investment, providing downstate market access to cleaner and more efficient resources located upstate and growing the market for renewables upstate;
- Create incentives for energy efficiency;
- Reduce the cost and time to achieve the state’s goal of 100 percent carbon-free emissions.