New Massachusetts Climate Bill, explained

On Friday March 26, Governor Baker signed this Next Generation Roadmap Climate Bill into law after vetoing it this past winter. This represents the most significant update to the Massachusetts state climate policy since 2008. By allowing for climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, it protects the wildlife and people in the state from some of the effects of climate change. 

The Next Generation Roadmap Climate Bill will “put Massachusetts back in front as the lead state working on renewable energy and sustainability solutions,” said Cape Ann Climate Coalition member Dick Prouty.

The bill establishes a statewide goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This means that the total amount of greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere by MA has to be balanced with the amount that is able to be removed. It is very difficult to remove these atmospheric gases, so emissions must still be reduced drastically to meet this goal. 

Prouty said the bill is both important and attainable. 

“The effects of climate change are getting worse each year, and are being recognized by more people as an increasing threat,” said Prouty. “This trend will only continue and will make the provisions of this bill seem more necessary each year, and the money to fund the provisions will become more popular.” 

There will be ‘checkpoints’ for this leading to the 2050 target. By 2030, the emissions must be 50 percent lower than they were in 1990 in MA, and by 2040, 75 percent lower.

Written into the bill is a specific five-year emission reduction goal in six sectors which are considered high priority: natural gas distribution, electricity generation and sources, transportation, residential buildings, commercial and industrial buildings, and industrial processes. Reducing emissions in these areas in the given time frame would put the state on track to meet the 2050 goal.

This bill also aims to change the way climate codes are made and viewed. It will create new, more rigid standards for evaluating the environmental impacts of new projects. Developers must now view the climate impacts of projects holistically rather than in parts where loopholes can be found. With this, new building codes will also be created to put a focus on making infrastructure more environmentally friendly and efficient. 

Also in the bill is a call for updating the priorities of several programs in the state. The Department of Public Utilities- the group that supervises the electric and natural gas utilities and capabilities for the state- and MassSave- the state’s energy efficiency program- will now have a stronger focus on reducing emissions and environmental burdens. This includes developing the clean energy workforce and training people in the operation and installation of alternative energy sources, creating new jobs. 

This bill will also:

  • Set new standards for home appliances. This does not mean that you must get rid of the ones you have. It means that the next ones you buy will be more energy efficient. 
  • Emphasize the use and access to wind power
  • Support innovative strategies for clean energy technologies
  • Make owning an electric vehicle easier and more desirable by building more charging stations
  • Create a grant program to help nonprofits afford solar panels
  • Work to end the disparities in renewable energy in low income communities by providing more clean energy options

This bill is all-encompassing for the Massachusetts community and marks a big change for the state.