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How can we supercharge the fight against climate change?

More electric vehicles means less transportation pollution

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If ever there was a place that was going to take on the challenge of climate change, it would be New York City. This is so much more than the nation’s largest and most vibrant city – it is home to millions of people who love their city and planet, as well as brilliant scientists, researchers and environmentally conscious companies. It is also made up of multiple islands that are vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Consider how much of the city was built before climate change was on everyone’s mind. Today, the number of New Yorkers living in the city’s floodplain is higher than the population of Cleveland. So when New York decides to tackle climate change, it does so in typical Big Apple style: with big vision, innovative thinking and a lot of energy. That’s why Con Edison, the energy company for the City of New York and Westchester County, is leading a transition to a low-carbon, clean energy future with the goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.

There’s no one road to reduced emissions in the city that never sleeps, but one of the important ways there is cutting transportation emissions. And one way of getting those emissions down is getting more electric vehicles, or EVs, on the road.

New Yorkers are buying more EVs year by year. In fact they bought 50% more electric vehicles in 2021 than the year before. But there’s also a challenge: EV ownership is as much a question of infrastructure as consumer choice. An EV needs a place to plug in, and in most of the country, that means a driveway or a garage. Those options aren’t as readily available in New York City, where only 9 percent of residents live in single-family detached homes.

So Con Edison teamed up with the New York City Department of Transportation to install charging stations at curbsides throughout the five boroughs. The company and city are closing in on the program’s goal of 100 chargers, and that’s just a start. Con Edison’s long-term goal is to spur the development of thousands of publicly available charging ports across the city by 2025. PowerReady is another EV charging initiative shifting into high gear now which provides incentives to support customers and developers that require infrastructure to power their chargers. All-in support for EVs is a critical component of Con Edison’s Clean Energy Commitment.

Speaking of money, Con Edison and the City are making the case to New York’s most dynamic feature: New Yorkers. They’re providing incentives to support customers and developers that require infrastructure to power their chargers, and there is money available for homes that increase energy efficiency or build storage for renewables. Con Edison’s plan to generate 100 percent renewable power is partially undergirded by smart grid technology, which maximizes energy output when the need is there, and doesn’t overexert itself when the need isn’t.

These are big goals. But ‘big’ is how New York operates. This is the city that used its influence to get New York state to adopt laws that will slash planet-warming emissions to 15 percent of 1990 levels. Some 76 percent of New Yorkers are worried about climate change. Ultimately, the stakes are high, and for New Yorkers that concept extends past their actual residences to the city itself.

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