Environmental justice and climate change advocates are pushing for its passage.
Beacon Hill is waiting for governor Charlie Baker to sign a bill called “An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy.” Advocates are urging him to pass the legislation, which would include requirements and incentives to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.
“There’s a big focus on reducing emissions, which is job one,” said Steve Long, director of government relations at the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, in a press release. “But there’s also a real focus on how do we improve the quality of life for people and communities – especially people in overburdened and underserved communities.”
The bill aims to define environmental justice communities and reduce possible pollution near them. These communities include those where the median household income is 65% or more below the statewide average where minorities make up 40% or more of the population, or where a quarter of residents don’t speak English. It would also incentivize the use of energy efficient appliances, such as dishwashers and refrigerators. All vehicles sold after 2035 would have to be electric. In addition, the bill mandates that the Commonwealth form a goal for carbon sequestration and storage, as well as come up with a plan to manage and protect ecosystems that help.
“We are so far above the amount of carbon that should be in the atmosphere anyway, we need to draw that down,” said Long. “And nature is the only economically and technically feasible tool that we have right now to do that.”
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.