In The News

New Yorkers Know Carbon Pricing Is Our Key to a Clean, Green Recovery

By Lynn Meyer and Peter Savio


Among many consequential issues at stake in the new year, climate change remains up for debate—but President Joe Biden’s victory is yet another sign that Americans overwhelmingly support the reduction of emissions, boosting the nation’s resilience through clean energy, and working to reduce the destructive trajectory our planet is currently facing. As we begin the Biden Administration’s first 100 days in office, we encourage the President and his appointed leaders to take swift, decisive action to remedy the last four years of regression and renter the fight against climate change with full force. With a Democratic Senate for the first time in years, we’re especially optimistic; however, it is imperative that we continue to take aggressive action on the statewide level and work toward environmental reform independently.

The majority of New Yorkers strongly support growing our state’s clean energy, reducing the use of fossil fuels and decreasing pollution in the air we breathe, but most have yet to learn about the New York Independent System Operator’s (NYISO) carbon adder proposal that would advance these goals. When they do, they’re fully on board.

These were the key findings of a recent poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute and NYISO, a non-profit company that runs the wholesale electricity markets and operates the state’s electric grid. The survey found that a strong majority—62 percent of New Yorkers—support NYISO’s proposal after having its numerous benefits explained.

These compelling results indicate the importance of educating New Yorkers on how incorporating a social cost of carbon will improve our lives. Placing a small fee on oil and gas power production will increase near-term investment in new zero- or low-carbon energy such as solar and wind; reduce air pollution in disadvantaged communities like the Bronx that are most impacted by power plant emissions; boost clean technology and innovation so that New York is a national and global leader in the clean energy economy for decades to come; benefit the state’s economy by creating jobs; and accelerate the retirement of the state’s oldest, highest-emitting fossil fuels in favor of low carbon and carbon free energy sources. Moreover, consistent with the NYISO’s history of effectively managing competitive wholesale markets and keeping costs low for New York’s energy consumers, the NYISO is well positioned to unleash competitive markets to decarbonize the electric sector at least cost to consumers.

NYISO’s President and CEO summed it up nicely: “These results demonstrate that New Yorkers recognize carbon pricing is a compelling tool for meeting New York’s clean energy, economic, and public health needs. As New York looks to incentivize the investment necessary to achieve its climate goals, we need every tool at our disposal. Carbon pricing will speed up innovation and protect consumers from the risk associated with those investments. Now we know the proposal has broad public support.” ISOs in other states and regions, including the ISO-New England, have begun to consider similar proposals.

Furthermore, the study also found that 79 percent of New Yorkers support the 2030 and 2040 goals set out last summer in the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA)—support that carried across all ideological, race, sex, age, geographic, income, and religious demographics. Multiple studies have shown that NYISO’s carbon pricing proposal will help the state meet these goals faster and more cost-effectively, leading to improved air quality as we grapple with a respiratory virus nationwide, as well as good-paying jobs in a troubled economy.

Julie Tighe, President of New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV), a fellow Carbon Free New York member organization, has emphasized that "We are in a climate crisis and need to act quickly to transition to a green grid. The NYISO’s carbon pricing proposal will help us reach the CLCPA goals faster while benefiting the state economy. We look forward to working with the NYISO and others to move carbon pricing forward."

If anything, this past year has shown New Yorkers the importance of disaster preparedness. The climate crisis isn’t waiting for anyone; we need bold, transformative solutions to reverse our trajectory and accelerate progress towards decarbonization. It’s clear that with an understanding of its environmental, social, and economic impact, New Yorkers overwhelmingly support carbon pricing.

Lynn Meyer and Peter Savio are NY State-level Organizers with Citizens' Climate Lobby, an international nonpartisan volunteer organization that advocates for federal carbon fee and dividend legislation. CCLNY is a member of the CarbonFreeNY coalition.