May 5, 2023
New York has taken a monumental step in the fight against climate change by becoming the first state in the United States to ban natural gas and other fossil fuels in most new buildings. This decision has been seen as a major win for climate advocates but may also face pushback from fossil fuel interests.
About the new law
The legislation prohibits gas-fueled stoves, furnaces, and propane heating, while promoting the usage of environmentally friendly equipment, such as induction stoves and heat pumps, in the majority of new homes built in the state. Additionally, all-electric heating and cooking will be mandated for buildings under seven stories by 2026 and for taller buildings by 2029.
Buildings Account for 32% of NY State’s Planet-warming Emissions
A report published in 2022 revealed that buildings contribute to 32% of New York State’s emissions that cause global warming. Methane, which is the key ingredient in natural gas used for heating homes and stoves, has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years of its release into the atmosphere. Consequently, scientists are looking at reducing the use of this fossil fuel to decrease pollution that causes global warming. Moreover, research has shown that gas stoves are responsible for causing serious health problems, such as asthma.
Berkeley Leads the Way
Although New York is the first state to introduce a law of this kind, other cities have already set an example. Berkeley was the first US city to pass a code prohibiting natural gas hookups in new buildings in 2019, followed swiftly by San Francisco in 2020 and New York City in 2021.
Pushback from the Natural Gas Industry
The state’s new law has been criticized by the natural gas industry, who argue that it limits consumer choice. Concerns were raised that the ban on natural gas could increase costs, jeopardize environmental progress, and deny affordable energy to underserved populations.
More Climate Change Efforts
Aside from the prohibition of natural gas, the state budget of New York also promotes other initiatives to combat climate change, which includes the establishment of publicly owned renewable energy projects that would generate eco-friendly jobs, and the cap-and-invest program. The program compels companies that have a greater carbon footprint to procure permits to pollute. The revenue raised would go towards initiatives that offset the impact of planet-warming pollution.