N.Y.'s MTA joins UN agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

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Potential absolute reduction pathways for MTA include bus electrification and the electrification of diesel-powered commuter rail lines.

Marc A. Hermann

Potential absolute reduction pathways for MTA include bus electrification and the electrification of diesel-powered commuter rail lines.Marc A. Hermann

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) joined the United Nations-sponsored Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

Through the SBTi, a partnership between U.N. Global Compact, the World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund, and CDP, the MTA will develop a defined set of emissions reduction targets using the most up-to-date climate science to help keep the global temperature rise this century below two degrees Celsius. The MTA is only the second government agency in the U.S. to commit to a science-based target to drive down greenhouse gas emissions.

As the nation’s largest public transportation provider, the MTA offsets effects of global warming and climate change by keeping New Yorkers’ carbon emissions to the lowest per-capita in the country. The MTA plans to continue these efforts by setting defined targets to reduce greenhouse emissions across transportation and non-transportation activities throughout the organization. The agency will have two years to establish targets for emissions reductions, and up to 15 years to meet these targets. The targets will set the emissions threshold around which the MTA will develop its emissions reduction pathway.

The MTA’s science-based target will be set in both absolute and intensity reductions. Potential absolute reduction pathways include bus electrification, the electrification of diesel-powered commuter rail lines, increased energy efficiency at facilities, and working with our vendors to reduce emissions throughout its supply chain. Emissions per-passenger-mile can be reduced by looking into increasing capacity across its public transportation modes. As a large electricity consumer, the MTA’s carbon footprint also stands to benefit from the increasing share of renewable energy incorporated into New York State’s energy portfolio.

The MTA is already setting the bar to reduce its energy consumption. Through Gov. Cuomo’s BuildSmartNY clean energy initiative, the MTA will complete more than 75 energy efficiency projects with New York Power Authority by the end of 2020, making the MTA a leader in energy efficiency across every New York State agency.

Furthermore, the MTA plans to achieve a significant emissions reduction by converting the diesel bus fleet to electric, with the current plan calling for the MTA to have all electric buses by 2040. This process is well under way, highlighted by the inclusion of 500 electric buses in the next capital plan.