The climate protesters who took to the streets of Boston last week targeted the wrong people.
If these people really want to impact the climate debate, they should turn their attention outside of a state that is already well on its way to achieving the goals outlined during demonstrations at the State House.
Massachusetts has had a law on the books for more than a decade that mandates an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions from all sectors (electric generation, transportation and buildings) by 2050. Admittedly that isn’t 100 percent but worrying about whether Massachusetts meets 80 percent or 100 percent misses the larger picture.
There are separate regulations aimed at carbon reduction as well. State policy requires that 80 percent of electricity be generated using carbon free sources by 2050. And new proposed regulations by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will move that requirement to nearly 100 percent during the same time frame. AIM supports the proposed regulations.
The Baker administration has already finalized contracts for one offshore wind farm and other one is going through the approval process. These developments will leave the region humming with new turbines.
Additionally, a large hydro power project is being routed through Maine to supply about 18 percent of the Massachusetts’ total power. Without hydro power, our transition to carbon-free energy will be delayed for decades because it would take an enormous amount of additional solar or offshore wind to make up for the loss of carbon-free hydro power.
That leaves transportation – which accounts for the largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions - 45 percent and growing.
Governor Baker has been a leader in addressing transportation-based greenhouse gasses and is a visible backer a 12-state (plus the District of Columbia) regional effort to reduce greenhouse gases in the transportation sector known as the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). AIM has joined with the administration and several environmental groups to support this effort and the governor is always looking for more support.
TCI will establish a regional cap on carbon emissions while auctioning emissions allowances. Proceeds from the TCI fee will be sent back to each participating state improve statewide public transportation and to encourage fuel users to purchase alternative vehicles.
A MassINC poll published yesterday found that a majority of registered voters in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia strongly or somewhat support their home state's participation in TCI.
Some states are balking at joining TCI. Perhaps the Boston climate activists could take their message to other state capitals to ensure that this critical multi-state effort gets off the ground.
Declaring victory and moving on is tough, but it is necessary to move on from Massachusetts and concentrate efforts in those areas where the greatest changes should be made. There is lots of commonality. The 3,500 member employers of AIM support national efforts to mitigate climate change.
The best thing for all of us to do is acknowledge our work favorably and let the rest of the nation know it can be done with the right leadership.