Port Authority Of NY/NJ Sets Greenhouse Gas Reduction Precedent

November 12, 2018
port authority ny nj climate
Credit: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has become the first public transportation agency in the United States to embrace the Paris Climate Agreement, setting aggressive interim greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets that call for a 35-percent reduction by 2025 and reaffirming the agency’s commitment to an 80-percent reduction by 2050. Measures include 100 percent electric airport shuttle bus fleet – one of the largest in the country – $100 million in energy efficiency retrofits, and new renewable energy initiatives across Port Authority facilities.

The Port Authority has joined the We Are Still In coalition, a leading national alliance formed to help uphold the Paris targets, according to an October 25 news release. In doing so, the Port Authority reports that the board vote will contribute to GHG reductions in the agency’s direct emissions equivalent to 3.6 billion tons of coal burned annually, and achieve additional reductions related to the use of agency facilities. The board actions follow the release of the recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report earlier this month that forecasts severe environmental impacts sooner than previously anticipated.

“New York and New Jersey are providing strong leadership in the fight to reduce GHG emission to mitigate future climate change,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. In his comments, made during the announcement after the Board vote, he added, “The Port Authority is stepping up to reduce our emissions and committing to a leadership role in reducing the agency’s own carbon footprint, and in seeking ways to reduce emission throughout the transportation sector.”

“This is a huge step in the right direction for the agency, to set a new interim goal of 35 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions within seven years. The actions taken today will not only help mitigate climate change but set us on a path towards significant improvement of air quality in our local host communities,” said Port Authority Board Chairman Kevin O’Toole.

“We are setting these interim goals in order to reduce our carbon footprint, and we will continue to search for new technology and innovative programs that will help support our goals,” said Board Vice Chairman James Lynford.

“While leaders in Washington are in a state of denial about climate change, New York is leading the way forward to reduce carbon emissions and fulfill our contribution to the Paris Agreement targets,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said. He added, “Either we end this problem or this problem will end us, and the Port Authority’s commitment today will be a critical component of the U.S. Climate Alliance’s global fight.”

“I applaud the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for embracing the Paris Climate Agreement,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. He added, “We are already seeing the warning signs of climate change in our state and our region, and decisive action must be taken.”

The Paris Climate Agreement action and aggressive GHG reduction targets approved by the Board are key elements of the Port Authority’s strategy to improve environmental protection and sustainability measures at its air, tunnel, bridge, port, terminal, rail and World Trade Center facilities, noted the update.

Key measures including the following:

Clean Electric Vehicles

  • 36 all-electric shuttle buses at JFK, Newark Liberty and LGA airports.
  • 50 percent of the Port Authority’s light duty vehicle fleet, representing 600-750 vehicles, converted to electric.
  • New fast-charging “hub” at JFK – 10 stations, with full recharge in 30 minutes or less.
  • Piloting first-ever electric cargo equipment, in partnership with Maher Terminals, and converting airside equipment to electric at the airports.

Energy Efficiency

  • $100 million to retrofit existing facilities to guarantee savings of equal or greater value.
  • LED re-lamping initiatives at the World Trade Center site, JFK, EWR, Port Authority Bus Terminal, George Washington Bridge and Holland Tunnel.

Solar/Renewable Energy Programs

  • Solar and fuel-cell initiatives across six Port Authority facilities including JFK, LGA, Newark Liberty, New York Stewart International Airport, One World Trade Center and PATH. Financed by third-party developers fronting construction costs and recovering them through power purchase agreements.
  • Targeting development of a 5MW community solar project at JFK offering low-cost renewable energy to local residents.

Building “Green” Facilities

  • $25 billion in new airport facilities will incorporate best-in-class sustainability measures and practices.

Ocean-going Vessels

  • Extend ocean-going Vessel Clean Vessel Incentive Program by five years across all port facilities, incentivizing container and cruise ships to make voluntary engine, fuel and technology enhancements that reduce emissions.

Offshore Wind

  • Issue Request for Expressions of Interest that seeks proposals for offshore-wind support facilities utilizing Port Authority land in New York and New Jersey.

Partnering to Combat Climate Change

  • Actively participating with a broad range of leading environmental coalitions, including We Are Still In, The Climate Group’s EV 100, Science-Based Targets Initiative, World Ports Climate Action Program, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and below 50.

“By joining EV100, the Port Authority is sending a powerful message that the shift to electric transport is gaining unstoppable momentum,” said Amy Davidson, Executive Director of The Climate Group. “Switching to electric vehicles for its fleet and airport buses will lower Port Authority’s emissions and contribute to improving the quality of the air in the region – showing thousands of travelers what a clean and electric future looks like,” Davidson added.

“Because the Port Authority of NY & NJ is one of the busiest ports in the United States, this partnership between the PA and below50 will lead to significant gains in meeting goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by incorporating sustainable fuels into heavy-duty equipment and transportation, such as cargo ships, which do not have electric alternatives,” said below50 representative Stephanie Batchelor.

In 2017, after the Trump administration announced plans to pull out of the Paris Climate agreement, 17 states and territories, including New York and New Jersey, formed the United States Climate Alliance and committed to uphold the objectives of the Agreement. We Are Still In was also organized after the U.S. withdrawal from the accords.

The Port Authority is using the baseline year of 2006 for measurement of the agency’s emission reduction standards and targets, reflecting the PA’s early commitment to cutting GHG levels and incorporating strong sustainability programming into its strategy.
 
Founded in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade Center is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The Port Authority receives no tax revenue from either the State of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency raises the necessary funds for the improvement, construction or acquisition of its facilities primarily on its own credit.

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