Boston – Massachusetts is playing a major role in U.S. progress to address climate change, a new report said today. In the next decade, the state will make reductions in its global warming pollution equivalent to the annual emissions from 4 million passenger vehicles.
The Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center report comes as pressure mounts on the U.S. to play a leading role in negotiations for an international climate agreement in Paris.
“To tackle a problem as big as global warming, it’s going to take global action,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “Massachusetts is helping lead the nation towards a clean energy future, and that’s giving the United States some real leverage in international climate negotiations.”
The report, Path to the Paris Climate Conference: American Progress in Cutting Carbon Pollution Could Pave the Way for Global Action, documents expected carbon pollution reductions from existing state-level and federal policies by 2025, including renewable energy standards, fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and regional and state-based carbon caps.
“The Baker-Polito Administration and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) recognize that climate change is one of the most challenging issues the Commonwealth will face in the near and long term, and are dedicated to ensuring Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in addressing this issue,” said EEA Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Through our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and other climate-related initiatives, Massachusetts is committed to its continued leadership in addressing climate change and achieving the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act.”
The report shows that current state and federal policies can reduce America’s carbon pollution by 27 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
The largest reductions will come from the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which will create the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The plan, expected to be finalized this summer, will require a 38% percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in Massachusetts and help accelerate the transition to clean energy sources like wind and solar.
The report ranks states by their expected global warming emissions reductions by 2025 compared to 2005 levels. Massachusetts has the eighth-highest percentage reduction, at 26%, thanks to strong state and regional programs. Among these programs is RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a groundbreaking agreement between Massachusetts and eight other Northeastern states to cap emissions from the power sector and invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
"Massachusetts is first in the nation for energy efficiency, and we're seeing our efforts pay off,” said Geoff Chapin, CEO and founder of Next Step Living. “We're decreasing our carbon emissions that negatively impact our climate, and we're creating more local, high-paying jobs. Through state and federal policies like the Clean Power Plan, we can continue to cut emissions while increasing our economic competitiveness and fostering a culture of innovation."
Fossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress are trying to block the Clean Power Plan, with the full House and two key Senate panels voting last month to derail it.
To avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change, scientists estimate that an 80 percent cut in global warming pollution will be necessary by mid-century. As the report notes, a more rapid transition to clean energy sources, beyond those already required by existing policies, will be required to achieve these levels.
“Massachusetts’ efforts to cut carbon emissions are making a real difference, in the Commonwealth and beyond,” said Hellerstein. “But we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. We should build on our past commitments and do everything we can to grow the state’s clean energy sector, invest in energy efficiency, and promote game-changing strategies to reduce emissions. Other states are counting on us to lead the way.”
Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.EnvironmentMassachusettsCenter.org