ALBANY, NY — An ambitious 2019 climate change law adopted by the Legislature could cost as much as $510 billion while yielding benefits worth several hundred billion less, according to a new Empire Center report that assesses a cost-benefit analysis recently released by the Climate Action Council —the entity charged with implementing New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Law).  

The Climate law requires that New York transition to alternative energy sources on an aggressive timeline, arbitrarily choosing 2040 as the date for achieving a carbon-free power grid and 2050 for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent. The cost-benefit analysis Empire studied appeared just last month, more than two years after the law’s enactment. 

“The Climate Law, by design, will completely upend the state’s economy, and while the environmental goals laid out are no doubt noble, the economic ramifications could have devastating impacts for years to come,” said James Hanley, the paper’s author. “The Climate Action Council assessment fails to fully account for these costs, or to even try to estimate who will be required to pay them.” 

The benefits assumed in the Climate Action Council analysis are also questioned by the Empire study. For instance, $260 billion in benefits from avoidance of economic damage from climate change are projected to result from New York’s reduction of greenhouse gas emissions under the law. But New York currently produces only 4/10ths of one percent of global GHG emissions, so it’s not clear how a reduction in its tiny share of global emissions would prevent more than a quarter trillion in economic harm.  

According to Hanley, megaprojects such as that required by the Climate Law typically come in 50 percent or more over budget, while also overstating benefits by just as much.  

Read the full report here. 

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