NEW YORK CITY, New York: Following smaller U.S. cities that are transitioning from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy, the New York City Council voted to ban the use of natural gas in new buildings.
According to the vote streamed on the council’s website, new buildings in America’s largest city, with a population of 8.8 million, must use electricity for heat and cooking.
With 1 million residents, San Jose, California, is currently the most populated U.S. city that has banned gas in new buildings.
“The bill to ban the use of gas in new buildings will help us to transition to a greener future and reach carbon neutrality by the year 2050. We are in a climate crisis and must take all necessary steps to fight climate change and protect our city,” said New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
The law will apply to new buildings that are under seven stories high by the end of 2023, and those over seven stories in 2027, with the exception of new buildings used for certain activities, such as manufacturing, hospitals and commercial kitchens.
“Reducing New York’s reliance on natural gas will gradually increase demand for electricity, but our electric grid is more robust than it is ever been, and we will be ready for a renewable-powered future,” said Consolidated Edison Inc., which supplies power and gas in New York City.
Environmental group RMI said burning fuels to provide heat and water in buildings accounts for some 40 percent of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
“When the largest city in the country takes this type of concrete action and shows bold climate leadership, we believe other cities, states and countries will take notice and act accordingly,” said Lisa Dix, New York director for environmental group Building Decarbonization Coalition, as reported by Reuters.
The oil and gas industry opposed the proposal and claimed using gas for heating would less expensive for customers and reduce emissions when combined with clean fuels, such as hydrogen and renewable natural gas from landfills.
“We share the commitment to greatly reducing emissions, but the pipelines that deliver natural gas today has zero-carbon fuels like hydrogen, while renewable natural gas in the future will be essential to meet any environmental goal,” said Karen Harbert, of the American Gas Association.