New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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Despite Growth in Renewable Energy, Carbon Emissions Hit Another High

New York City

Co-op and condo boards, Local Law 97, building carbon emissions, renewable energy sources.
March 1, 2024

Is this glass half full or half empty? For New York City co-op and condo boards scrambling to reduce their buildings' carbon emissions enough to comply with Local Law 97, the answer is: a little bit of both.

The half-empty part: global carbon dioxide emissions hit another record high in 2023. The half-full part: the increase was smaller than the year before due to the strong expansion of such renewable energy sources as solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Forbes reports that between 2019 and 2023, the growth in clean energy was twice as large as fossil fuels, the IEA said. Without this expansion, the global increase in CO2 emissions would have been three times larger. As it was, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions hit a record level of 37.4 billion tons in 2023, a rise of 410 million tons from the previous year. Thanks to strong growth in clean energy sources, the 2023 increase was down from the 490 million tons from 2021 to 2022. Emissions from coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, accounted for 65% of the increase.

“The clean energy transition has undergone a series of stress tests in the last five years – and it has demonstrated its resilience," says Fatih Birol, executive director of IEA. "A pandemic, an energy crisis and geopolitical instability all had the potential to derail efforts to build cleaner and more secure energy systems. Instead, we’ve seen the opposite in many economies."

Extreme droughts across the world were key contributors to the rise in carbon emissions last year, as they led to a shortfall in hydropower output and caused countries like the U.S. and China to turn to fossil fuels to cover the gap. The report notes that without this shortfall in clean electricity, emissions from electricity generation would have fallen in 2023.

For New York's co-op and condo boards, this report may serve as a reminder to follow the old mantra: think globally, act locally. While keeping in mind the enormous challenges of reducing the planet's carbon emissions to fight climate change, co-op and condo boards can — and must — do their part by reducing their buildings' carbon emissions. And they need to remember that switching building systems from fossil fuels to renewable energy is key to cutting those emissions.

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