The Methane Difference August 24 2020

Here is a follow up on last week's Just In! piece on the DEC's new Part 496 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction regulation.

The two charts below from the Regulatory Impact Statement- Proposed Part 496 show the importance of New York's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). This law requires greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts to be defined based on their 20-year impact, rather than their 100-year impact, since scientists warn the battle for climate stabilization will be won over the next decade rather than the next century.

The tables below show GHG emissions for the 1990 base year from which reductions are to be measured. Using the 100-year time frame GHG emissions measured 311.47 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Using the more accurate and relevant CLCPA methodology (20-year time frame) the 1990 emissions were 401.38 million metric tons of CO2e. Methane (CH4), the primary component of fossil gas (more commonly called natural gas), has more than 80 times more climate warming potential than carbon dioxide on a 20-year time scale.

Looking at the charts below, we see that most of the difference is in the CH4 column of the Energy and Waste rows. Simply put, under the CLCPA, fossil gas is now counted as far more damaging to the climate.

New York's data will now show a greater benefit every time a heat pump replaces a gas furnace. Wind and solar electric generation replacing gas power plants will also be more valuable. In the tables below IPPU is Industrial Processes and Product Use, and AFOLU is Agriculture Forestry and Other Land Use.