The Legislaure last week passed a sweeping climate measure, known as the Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill, which overhauls the state’s climate laws, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, advances the clean energy industry, and prioritizes and protects environmental justice communities.
The Roadmap’s provisions update the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal to net zero by 2050, set strong interim targets, and establish comprehensive planning mechanisms focused on equity to enable the state to achieve its goal.
“I filed the 2050 Roadmap to align the Massachusetts economy with the pressing urgency of the climate science,” said state Rep. Joan Meschino. “This bill is fundamentally an economic one. By mandating a comprehensive planning process, locking in the key carbon emission reduction milestones needed to get us to net zero in 30 years, and centering equity in the work, we will create a clean, green economy that works for both people and the planet.”
The passage of the climate bill comes after a joint commitment from Senate President Karen E. Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano to quickly refile the legislation, which was originally vetoed as last session ended. Both chambers rejected efforts to slow the rate of progress toward net-zero emissions by 2050, while accepting several substantive and technical amendments intended improve the bill. The bill now goes to the governor’sdesk.
The final legislation:
- sets a statewide net-zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and mandates emissions limits every five years and sublimits for transportation, buildings, and other sectors of the economy;
- codifies environmental justice provisions into state law;
- establishes a municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code that includes a definition of “net-zero building” and net-zero building performance standards;
- requires an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind, increasing the total authorization to 5,600 megawatts;
- directs the state Department of Public Utilities to balance priorities: system safety, system security, reliability, affordability, equity, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions;
- sets appliance energy efficiency standards for a variety of common appliances, including plumbing, faucets, computers, and commercial appliances;
- adopts several measures aimed at improving gas pipeline safety;
- requires utilities to include an explicit value for greenhouse gas reductions when they calculate the cost-effectiveness of an offering of MassSave;
- increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard by 3 per cent each year from 2025-2029, resulting in 40 per cent renewable energy by 2030;
- factors the “carbon sequestration” capacity of the state’s natural and working lands directly into emissions reduction plans;
- prioritizes equitable access to the state’s solar programs by low-income communities;
- sets benchmarks for the adoption of clean energy technologies;
- establishes $12 million in annual funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to create a pathway to the clean energy industry for environmental justice populations, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, and fossil fuel workers;
- provides solar incentives for businesses; and
- creates a first-time greenhouse gas emissions standard for municipal lighting plants that requires them to purchase 50 percent non-emitting electricity by 2030, 75 percent by 2040, and “net zero” by 2050.