On December 30, 2020, New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (the “Department”) promulgated statewide ambient limits on greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions for the years 2030 and 2050 (the “Regulations”).[1]  The GHGs covered by the Regulations include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons.[2]  The final Regulations constitute a critical step in the implementation of New York State’s climate strategy set out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”).

The CLCPA, enacted in July 2019,[3] amends both the state’s Environmental Conservation Law and Public Service Law to address and mitigate the effects of climate change by cutting GHG emissions, enhancing the development of renewable energy sources, and creating “green jobs.”  With regard to GHG emissions, the CLCPA directed the Department to establish statewide GHG emission limits (measured in units of carbon dioxide equivalents) as a percentage of 1990 emissions, i.e., 60% of 1990 emissions by 2030 and 15% of 1990 emissions by 2050.[4]  In order to effectuate this directive, the Department undertook a study to determine the total statewide GHG emissions that occurred in 1990 to use as the baseline.

The Department’s baseline for 1990 statewide GHG emissions was estimated at 409.78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.  Using this baseline, the Department established the following maximum allowable levels of statewide GHG emissions for 2030 and 2050:

Year Statewide GHG Emission Limit
(in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent)
2030 245.87
2050 61.47

The Regulations impose tonnage limits on statewide GHG emissions from across the New York economy.  “Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emissions” is defined as the total annual emissions of GHGs produced (i) in-state from anthropogenic sources and (ii) out-of-state from the generation of electricity or the extraction and transmission of fossil fuels imported into the state.

Moving forward, other regulatory and non-regulatory policies will be required to ensure that these GHG emission reductions are met.  By January 1, 2024, the Department is required to promulgate regulations requiring the control of various energy, industrial and transportation sources to assure compliance with these GHG emission limits.[5]


[1] 6 NYCRR Part 496.  See http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/121052.html.

[2] The list of GHGs in the Regulations is taken from studies by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  See 6 NYCRR §496.5.  For information on the IPCC, see http://www.ipcc.ch.

[3] The CLCPA (Chapter 106 of 2019) was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 18, 2019.  The law became effective on January 1, 2020, triggered by the Governor’s signing of Chapter 735 of 2019, establishing a permanent environmental justice advisory group and an environmental justice interagency coordinating council.

[4] Environmental Conservation Law §75-0107.

[5] Environmental Conservation Law §75-0109.  Note that the legislation exempts agricultural emissions from livestock.