The New York City Council voted on Wednesday to ban the use of natural gas in new buildings, following in the footsteps of dozens of smaller U.S. cities seeking to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy.
New buildings in the biggest U.S. city with 8.8 million residents will have to use electricity for heat and cooking, according to the council vote that was streamed on its website.
“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,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, noting “We are in a climate crisis and must take all necessary steps to fight climate change and protect our city.”
In the near-term, the new law will do little to reduce carbon emissions in the Big Apple, as numerous older buildings will not be affected, and the new structures would use electricity generated with fossil fuels anyway. Longer-term, however, carbon emissions will fall since the state plans to stop using fossil fuels to generate power.
The law would apply to new buildings under seven stories high at the end of 2023 and those over seven stories in 2027. There are exceptions for new buildings used for certain activities, including manufacturing, hospitals, commercial kitchens and laundromats.