Governor Hochul Announces Launch of Multi-Year Study to Explore How Climate Change Affects New York State Communities, Ecosystems, and the Economy
Collaborative Climate Research Effort to Be Conducted in Partnership with Academic Institutions, Science Organizations, Community Leaders, and Industry Representatives
November 4, 2021
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the launch of a multi-year study, New York State Climate Impacts Assessment: Understanding and Preparing for Our Changing Climate, to explore how climate change affects communities, ecosystems, and the economy in New York State. This collaborative climate research effort led by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's (NYSERDA) and conducted in partnership with academic institutions, science organizations, community leaders and industry representatives, among others, to better understand and document the current impact of climate change across the state, what future impacts may be, and how the state can better prepare for them. Taking action to adapt to future climate conditions supports the implementation of the State's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
"Climate change is here, it's real and no state has felt its impact more than New York," Governor Hochul said. "From hurricanes like Sandy and Ida, to seven feet of snow in Buffalo, we have seen our weather continue to grow more extreme each year. As we continue to rebuild in the wake of this pandemic, we must take a hard look at how climate change will impact our future and this study will serve as a key roadmap in informing how we can build a thriving New York in the midst of these challenges.
Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, NYSERDA, "It is true that New York State, like many parts of the nation, is witnessing warmer average temperatures, more rampant flooding than ever before, and coastal erosion due to rising sea levels, making clear the climate is changing more rapidly than we once even thought possible. To ensure we are prepared for what's to come, NYSERDA looks forward to working with our partners on this ambitious and collaborative effort to help inform climate choices at all levels of decision making in the state."
Led by NYSERDA, the Assessment will provide a credible, science-based analysis of what to expect from climate change in New York under various scenarios and will seek to convey this information in ways that are actionable, relevant, and easy to understand. Nearly 80 individuals representing more than 60 different organizations across the United States and Canada will be involved in developing the Assessment which will help residents, businesses, and decision makers across the state better plan and prepare for the impacts of climate change on our systems and infrastructure. The Assessment will incorporate the latest data, models, and scientific understanding of climate change.
Specifically, it will include:
- Up-to-date projections of future climate conditions in New York State;
- In-depth economic impact assessments;
- A peer-reviewed technical report on impacts and adaptation strategies; and
- Summaries and other materials designed for use by particular audiences.
These resources will be made publicly available on NYSERDA's website once the assessment is completed, which is expected in early 2023.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "This science-based study is a prudent approach to examine the most information New Yorkers need to prepare for the new realities caused by our changing climate. By harnessing the collective expertise of some of the most knowledgeable experts across the country to identify and assess causes and consequences of climate change, New York State is better able to inform public policy and bolster resiliency programs. I commend our partners at NYSERDA for their commitment to combat the climate crisis on all fronts by advancing solutions to address the challenges we face while protecting and informing our communities."
To ensure the final Assessment reflects a wide range of input and engagement, NYSERDA has assembled a team of national climate science experts and representatives from diverse communities and constituencies from across New York State, other U.S. states - California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Indiana, and Texas - and Canada as well as members of indigenous communities to collaborate on developing the Assessment. Eight technical working groups will lead much of the Assessment, including searching and critically reviewing the best available scientific literature, incorporating new projections, and developing the technical report. Each workgroup is led by two co-chairs and has been tasked with examining climate change impacts in one of the following eight sectors: agriculture, buildings, ecosystems, energy, human health and safety, society and economy, transportation, and water resources.
In addition to these sectors, the Assessment will address several cross-cutting perspectives such as equity and underserved communities, municipal government concerns, marine coastal zones, and the Great Lakes. Advisory groups comprised of representatives from communities and industries that are especially active in or impacted by sector activities will support the work of each technical working group to ensure that the final assessment captures the impacts that matter most, the process is driven by the needs of people who will use this research, and the results are accessible and actionable. NYSERDA has selected Consensus Building Institute (CBI), Eastern Research Group (ERG), Columbia University, and Industrial Economics (IEc) to provide technical modeling, administrative coordination and facilitation support for the assessment.
In New York, climate change is already having a profound impact on society, the economy, and natural ecosystems. The agricultural growing season is fluctuating, coastal and inland flooding is happening more often, populations of plants and wildlife are changing, catastrophic weather events are more likely, and their costs to human life and infrastructure is increasing. Alongside the state's nation-leading efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow the pace of climate change, today's announcement enhances New York's ability to adapt to these shifting environmental and societal conditions and will help to inform its preparation and response strategies for future impacts that will be identified in the final assessment.
Senator Kevin Parker, NYS Senate Energy Chair, said, "I applaud NYSERDA and Governor Hochul for taking a proactive approach and launching this multi-year study. It will ensure our state is able to prepare for future effects of climate change and stays ahead of the curve. I am proud of the various agencies that have come together to make this assessment a reality for our state."
Assemblymember Michael Cusick, NYS Assembly Energy Chair, said, "As we continue to set climate goals and work toward building a cleaner energy grid, it is important that we fully examine and understand the challenges and the issues we are facing. I am glad that we will be working to attain a comprehensive understanding of how our changing climate impacts our economy and our communities. This study will inform energy and climate policy decisions going forward and will provide us with a roadmap for the future."
Eastern Research Group, Inc. Founder and CEO David Meyers said, "ERG is honored to support NYSERDA by playing a central role in coordinating the New York State Climate Impacts Assessment. Providing an accurate, accessible, relevant, and up-to-date understanding of climate change-related impacts across New York State will contribute to the vital mission of protecting the health, resiliency, and prosperity of New York's many diverse communities, ecosystems, and industries. We look forward not only to serving the people of New York State, but also to holding up this groundbreaking work as an exemplary model of how to develop an impact assessment for a changing world."
The Consensus Building Institute's Sr. Mediators and Project Leads Pat Field and Catherine Morris said, "The Consensus Building Institute is committed to helping NYSERDA and the Technical Work Groups hear from a diverse range of affected, frontline stakeholders and decision makers across the state who can share their knowledge, lived experience and vulnerabilities to climate impacts. These advisors will be key to ensuring that the Climate Assessment focuses on the most important impacts, translates what we know and what we can anticipate into accessible and actionable information, and helps New York State be prepared and ready to adapt in an equitable manner to a changing climate.
Columbia University Lamont Research Professor Radley Horton said, "Recent climate extremes in New York, coupled with the availability of new models, demonstrate NYSERDA's foresight in commissioning and launching the Climate Impacts Assessment at this moment in time. NYSERDA thus maintains its central role in positioning New York State as a global leader in climate change mitigation and adaptation. We are thrilled to provide the core climate science information undergirding this ambitious and essential initiative by NYSERDA."
Industrial Economics (IEc) Principal, Project Lead, and IPCC Lead Author Jim Neumann said, "NYSERDA's timing for the launch of the Climate Impacts Assessment is ideal - just as new methods and data are becoming available to estimate the economic impact of changes in climate, the need for this information to inform New York State policy is at an all-time high. The public wants to know how this new normal of severe climate and extreme events will affect health, property, and livelihoods in the future. IEc is excited to apply the best science and economics to advance our understanding of the new climate reality."
New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Act
New York State's nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $21 billion in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2019, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.
NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect the environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York State since 1975. To learn more about NYSERDA’s programs and funding opportunities, visit nyserda.ny.gov or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.