DEC Announces Update to 'Value of Carbon' Guidance to Help Measure Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Guidance is Used to Help Achieve Targets of Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Implementation
New Values Added for Sulfur Hexafluoride and HFCs to Inform New York's Actions to Reduce Emissions
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced an update to the Value of Carbon guidance, a key tool for state actions to reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions and advance the ongoing implementation of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act). The guidance updates provide a current and accurate estimate of the cost in dollars of each additional ton of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as helps estimate the benefit of actions taken to reduce emissions to help State agencies make decisions to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The existing guidance is being updated to specifically add the social costs per ton of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) and HFC-236fa, which are the highest values compared to other greenhouse gasses per ton due to their long-lasting and high-impact nature.
"Identifying the costs and benefits of reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions is critical to New York's robust efforts to address the urgency of the climate crisis," DEC Commissioner and Climate Action Council Co-Chair Seggos said. "As part of Governor Kathy Hochul's commitment and leadership in realizing Climate Act targets, DEC will continue to update the 'Value of Carbon' metric for State agencies to ensure the best information is available for the planning and implementation of strategies to reduce climate-altering emissions and improve the health, quality of life, and environment for New Yorkers."
The Value of Carbon guidance establishes a monetary value for the avoided emissions of greenhouse gases; provides an up-to-date review of approaches used by other governments to place a value on emissions; and identifies future areas of work, including the importance of upcoming updates proposed by the federal government. The guidance is different than a regulation and does not propose a carbon price, fee, or compliance obligation. It is a metric that is broadly applicable to all State agencies and authorities to demonstrate the global societal value of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the societal costs if action is not taken to reduce climate-altering emissions.
SF6 is primarily used as an insulating gas in the electricity system and is the most potent greenhouse gas. In addition to adding its societal cost, DEC is currently conducting pre-proposal stakeholder outreach as part of the development of a regulation of its use, as recommended by the Climate Action Council in the Scoping Plan. New York is the first state to provide a social cost per ton of SF6, and the 2023 value of SF6 at the central two percent discount rate is $4.7 million per ton. HFC-236fa is also a potent greenhouse gas with a relatively long atmospheric lifetime. The 2023 value of HFC-236fa at the central two percent discount rate is $1.7 million per ton. DEC has prohibited the use of HFC-236fa as a refrigerant in new HVAC equipment starting January 1, 2024, under state regulation.
The full set of values for 2020-2050, including the newly provided SF6 value and values for other greenhouse gas pollutants, is provided in the guidance Appendix. The Value of Carbon Guidance and supplemental documents are available on DEC's website.
New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan
New York State's nation-leading climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35%, with a goal of 40%, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation's most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70% renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $35 billion in 120 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 165,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2021 and over 3,000% growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold in the State be zero emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York's climate action with nearly 400 registered and more than 100 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State's largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state to help target air pollution and combat climate change.