New York State has passed a law prohibiting the use of gas appliances in newly constructed buildings. This is the first time a state has implemented such a law. The move is part of an effort to promote carbon neutrality and combat climate change.
The new law will apply to buildings of seven floors or less from 2026, and from 2029 to high-rise buildings. However, hospitals, restaurants, and buildings with unreliable electricity supply are exempted. The state’s aggressive effort to reduce carbon emissions has been met with criticism from some quarters who believe that it infringes on consumer choice and property rights.
The use of fossil fuels for household appliances has been discouraged in New York State in a bid to achieve carbon neutrality. The state’s Climate Act, passed earlier, aims to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. In December last year, the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act recommended the prohibition of fossil fuel combustion in newly constructed buildings. The gas appliance ban bill was passed as a follow-up measure.
Reducing the use of gas and replacing it with electricity is essential to reducing carbon emissions in the building sector.
A survey conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation last year revealed that fossil fuels used in buildings accounted for 32% of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions. This is because carbon emissions are calculated by multiplying energy use with a carbon emission factor. While electricity has a carbon emission factor of only 0.4747, gas has a factor of 15.236, second only to petroleum’s 19.926.
This means that using gas for cooking results in 32 times more carbon emissions than using electric stoves for the same amount of energy. However, gas is mainly used for residential heating and cooking, making it a major contributor to carbon emissions. Governor Kathy Hochul, who spearheaded the gas appliance ban, stated that “Buildings are New York’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and efforts to reduce them are essential.”
The aggressive carbon reduction efforts in New York State have generated controversy, with critics from the Republican Party alleging that they infringe on the rights of consumers and homeowners. Republican Assemblyman Phil Palmesano stated that “The new law will take away people’s choices and infringe on their property rights. It will also raise costs for families and businesses.”