New York can reduce emissions and create jobs through industrial decarbonization

New York continues to lead on climate action. In her State of the State address, Governor Kathy Hochul made some important proposals to reduce emissions. His speech came shortly after the long-awaited approval of a final “framework plan” in December, which charts the way forward to implement the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the Legislation groundbreaking climate and equity enacted in 2019. To develop a credible pathway to deliver on the state’s ambitious climate commitments, policymakers now have the opportunity to capture billions in new federal incentives, grow the industrial economy state’s own resources and safeguard and create good jobs by investing in industrial decarbonisation.

To make real progress in the fight against climate change, it is essential that New York takes action to reduce industrial emissions. Heavy industry – including the manufacture of metals, such as steel and aluminium, cement, chemicals, as well as a small number of additional emission-intensive industrial sub-sectors – is responsible for 30% of US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions nationally and 9% of emissions. of New York State. Under today’s clean energy pathways, which largely focus on decarbonizing electricity, transportation, and buildings, industry is set to become the largest source of GHGs in the United States by the decade. . Purchasing these products from jurisdictions with less stringent climate rules can result in significant imports of embodied carbon, emissions related to the production of materials that may or may not show up in the state’s emissions total.

At the same time, industrial materials like steel, aluminum and cement are essential to economic activity, including the transition to renewable energy and clean transport. Steel is used in wind turbines, aluminum in transmission cables and electric vehicles, and concrete (of which cement is the main binding ingredient) is the second most used material on earth after water.

New York has a proud tradition of industrial manufacturing. It is a former iron and steel state and a current producer of cement at the Holcim plant in Ravena and the Heidelberg plant near Glens Falls, and of aluminum at the Alcoa plant in Massena. In fact, the Alcoa facility is one of the few remaining primary aluminum smelters in the United States and the only operating smelter in the United States that runs on hydroelectricity.

Outside of Manhattan, manufacturing jobs in New York pay more on average than other non-manufacturing jobs in the private sector: in 32 counties, manufacturing jobs paid on average at least $20,000 more than the average non-manufacturing job in the private sector. As the nation’s third-largest economy, New York is also a major buyer of industrial materials.

Yet this critical sector has atrophied in the state; between 2001 and 2019, manufacturing employment in New York declined by nearly 37%, a decline significantly steeper than the national average. That trend continues: Just last year, Lehigh Hanson announced the closure of its cement plant near Glens Falls, in operation since 1893, a move that will cost the state 85 jobs.

There is a huge need for action, but also a tremendous opportunity. New funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act has the potential to be a game-changer for the industrial sector, including in states like New York. These bills include billions in incentives and tax credits to facilitate the deployment of emission-reducing technologies at industrial facilities and incentives to promote Buy Clean procurement policies, which prioritize government purchases of materials. low-emission building materials for infrastructure projects.

These new investments in the industrial sector can create significant economic spinoffs. Industrial investments and the Buy Clean provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act alone have the potential to create nearly 180,000 new jobs nationwide. At the same time, the demand for low-carbon materials is growing as customers, manufacturers and governments push for greater sustainability. New York has the opportunity to revitalize its industrial base by attracting this investment.

As New York moves to implement the governor’s priorities and act on the scoping plan, the state is uniquely positioned to leverage massive federal investments in green industrial manufacturing.

To make this a reality, policymakers must develop a comprehensive plan for green industrial manufacturing as part of the state’s broader climate agenda. As outlined in the blueprint, New York should implement policies to invest in the production of clean materials like steel, aluminum and cement, attracting the federal incentives currently on the table and bringing additional state incentives for clean manufacturing. The state should also stimulate demand for the decarbonized products of these industrial facilities, leveraging its enormous purchasing power and potentially attracting large companies as well.

This plan must at least meet the ambition of the new federal programs of BIL and the law on the reduction of inflation, such as the hydrogen hubs program and the Advanced Industrial Facilities Deployment program. These programs were created to accelerate efforts to commercially deploy transformative technologies to significantly reduce industrial emissions. Thanks to these federal incentives and investments, it is now possible to fund groundbreaking retrofits of existing industrial facilities or build new facilities that use emerging technologies to manufacture zero-emissions industrial materials, such as direct reduction of iron for steel production using green hydrogen and the use of inert anodes for aluminum production.

We have high-impact action models from New York State to complement federal incentives. The Green CHIPS program leverages federal support for semiconductor manufacturing to facilitate advanced green manufacturing in the state. It has already been a remarkable success and could be a model for manufacturing green materials in the state.

The state can also take steps to increase demand for low-emitting materials. As a first step, New York should leverage the Low Embodied Carbon Concrete Leadership Act to establish guidelines for state agencies purchasing additional low-carbon materials, including steel and aluminum. . The state should also use new building development incentives to create additional private sector demand for low-carbon materials, potentially as part of Governor Hochul’s ambitious program to build 800,000 new buildings. homes by 2030.

With its strong climate commitments coinciding with the rollout of significant new federal funding, New York has a unique opportunity to put in place a comprehensive green industrial manufacturing policy that will help the climate while creating jobs. He should seize the opportunity.

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