Murphy dramatically increases greenhouse gas reduction goal

Governor says N.J. needs to reduce 2006 levels 50% by 2030

Gov. Phil Murphy, increasing his efforts to fight climate change, on Wednesday established an interim greenhouse gas reduction target of 50% below 2006 levels by 2030 and announced $33 million in clean transportation projects.

Murphy said the series of actions further secures the state’s clean energy future while protecting residents, the economy and the environment from the worsening impacts of climate change. The interim reduction goal strengthens the state’s path to achieving an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, he said.

Murphy, through executive order, also is putting dollars toward the effort, including:

  • He will leverage the proceeds from the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to make a $13.7 million investment in electric buses and trucks to reduce emissions and improve air quality in overburdened communities;
  • He will make a $20 million expansion of the New Jersey Zero Emission Incentive Program — known as NJZIP — into the greater Jersey Shore area.

Murphy said these initiatives will reduce vehicle emissions from the transportation sector, which is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey and a major contributor to global warming and climate change.

“We must meet the devastating impacts of global warming and climate change with bold, intentional action,” he said. “By reducing greenhouse gas emissions and electrifying our transportation sector, we are taking the critical steps to solidify New Jersey’s clean energy future, while also improving air quality in our underserved communities.”

Joseph Fiordaliso, the president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, said the programs will help the state meet the goals of the Energy Master Plan.

“The electrification of our transportation system is a key part of the Energy Master Plan, which is the pathway to reaching Gov. Murphy’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050,” he said. “With today’s announcement, we are supporting electric vehicles and reinforcing our commitment to reducing auto emissions in overburdened communities, which have, in the past, borne the burden of bus and truck pollution.”

Since February 2021, New Jersey has committed nearly $71 million in RGGI proceeds to purchase electric vehicles and install charging stations in environmental justice communities. The latest round of RGGI funding will enable local governments and private operators to purchase 46 electric school buses to serve Bogota, Dover, Camden, East Orange, Garfield, Haledon, Lakewood, Leonia, Paterson, Perth Amboy, Trenton and Weehawken. It also funds the purchase of three public works trucks in Pleasantville.

Not everyone was on board with the announcement.

Ray Cantor, vice president of government affairs at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said the goals are too much, too soon.

“While it’s laudable to attempt to address climate change through carbon reduction, it’s imperative that New Jersey not put forth energy benchmarks that are both impractical and improbable,” he said. “New Jersey’s energy goals should instead consider realistic policies that reduce carbon, while also assuring affordable and reliable energy for all our citizens and businesses.

“When you consider that New Jersey’s greenhouse gas reduction target is currently 20% of 2006 levels — requiring 15 years to get there, primarily through the state’s energy transition from coal to natural gas — it’s simply not feasible to get to 50% by the year 2030 without jeopardizing energy reliability or greatly impacting costs for all New Jerseyans.

“We encourage the Murphy administration to work toward more pragmatic and realistic policies to reduce carbon, rather than the unattainable, while also providing information to New Jersey ratepayers on what such plans are actually going to cost.”