New York State has set ambitious climate goals. It has committed to using 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. And it’s pledged to reduce its total carbon pollution by 85% percent below 1990 levels within the next three decades.

“So these are very aggressive targets,” says Fengqi You, a professor of energy systems engineering at Cornell University.

He wanted to figure out if these goals are realistic.

“Before we started this study, we were not sure,” You says.

His team analyzed scientific and economic data and concluded that the goals are technologically and financially feasible. And the researchers provided a road map to achieve them.

It relies heavily on off-shore wind for electricity.

For heating homes and buildings, You says the state will probably still rely on natural gas for a decade or more. But after that, he says natural gas furnaces can be phased out in favor of electric heat pumps, which extract heat from the air or ground.

You says that if the state invests in these technologies, it can meet its goals. And if it also implements a carbon tax, it could even meet these goals ahead of schedule.

“So in the end, we do see the future is quite bright,” he says.

… as long as New York starts making changes now.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.