Over the past few months, you’ve probably heard about an important climate change bill, An Act creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy, making progress through the Massachusetts State House, with some bumps along the way. Here’s a recap of what’s been going on.
What’s in the bill?
The Next-generation Roadmap bill is a critical set of climate goals that will allow us to enact climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, protecting both the people and wildlife of Massachusetts from climate change’s worst impacts. This bill would establish targets to reach net zero emissions by 2050; expand support for clean renewables; ensure the prioritization of Environmental Justice communities that have historically suffered most from environmental degradation and public health impacts; and highlight the role of forests, farmlands and wetlands in capturing and storing carbon.
What’s the Roadmap’s current status?
At the end of the 2019-2020 legislative session, the legislature approved the bill and sent it to Governor Baker’s desk for his signature – the last step needed for it to become law. However, passing the bill that close to the session’s end meant that the Governor wasn’t able to make changes. He ultimately chose not to sign it, effectively vetoing the bill.
Now that a new legislative session has started, the legislature has already prioritized the re-filed Roadmap bill, passing it once more and sending it to the Governor’s desk for the second time. Importantly, this time the Governor had the ability to propose changes to the bill, and sent it back to the legislature with amendments.
The Governor’s changes to the Roadmap bill include:
- A compromise emissions reduction goal of 45-50% by 2030, vs. the stricter 50% goal set by the original bill. Similarly, the Governor’s changes would set a 2040 emissions reduction goal of 65% vs. the original bill’s 75%
- Changing sector-specific emissions reduction targets to recommendations rather than requirements
- Loosening requirements and timelines for net-zero building stretch codes
- Strengthening language around prioritization of Environmental Justice communities
- Dropping opposition to more ambitious offshore wind targets
Now the legislature can decide to accept, reject, or further revise the Governor’s amendments. Mass Audubon is advocating for swift passage of the strongest version of the bill possible.
We’re nearly over the finish line! Once these climate goals are codified into law we can move to action, implementing the solutions we so urgently need.