NJ Spotlight Environment Writer Discusses Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The governor’s always talking about it and now a new Rutgers Climate Institute study seems to back it up — New Jersey is ahead of of its 2020 goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one-fifth from 1990 levels. How is it doing that? NJTV News Correspondent Michael Hill spoke with Tom Johnson, founder and environment writer for NJ Spotlight to find out.

Johnson says the state is meeting the goal because of a few factors, including a lower price for natural gas in addition to moderate seasons.

“One [factor] is low natural gas prices caused by discovery of a lot of new deposits in neighboring states and they have lowered the cost of natural gas and it’s displaced coal fired generation which is a big contributor to global climate change. The other factors include there’s been more solar in the state and increased energy efficiency which reduces consumption of electricity and gas,” he said. “And finally there’s been warmer winters and cooler summers where people have been using less electricity and gas than in the past so it has put the state on a course to meet the 20 percent goal by 2020; but the state still faces big challenges with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.”

What’s standing in the way? Johnson says the transportation sector.

“There’s a lot of inaction on initiatives that would achieve [meeting] that goal. New Jersey — unlike many other states — the transportation sector is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions and unlike other states where power from power suppliers provides most of the emissions. But New Jersey hasn’t done much at all to curb pollution from the transportation sector that is contributing to global climate change,” Johnson said.

New Jersey in the recent past was touted as one of the leaders nationally when it comes to solar energy, however we’ve fallen in the ranks due to over saturation.

“The solar sector went through a tough and turbulent period a couple years ago in part because it was a victim of its own success and there were so many solar systems built that the price that people who built those systems got for those arrays dropped dramatically and it dried up the market,” Johnson explained. “The Legislature passed a bill and it seems to be working. The market has stabilized but New Jersey is no longer number two behind California. It’s dropped to three or four in various rankings.”