On Earth Day, Northeast Climate Action Looks Bold and Promising

By Sean Burke, NECEC Policy Associate

This Earth Day, we celebrate today’s news that the Biden Administration has updated the national target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions to 50% by 2030. This new goal will reestablish U.S. climate leadership and emolden cities, states and regions to adopt ambitious clean energy plans and policies. But here in the Northeast, our states have long been leaders on clean energy and climate action. We want to take a moment to recognize the recent strides our region has made towards driving bold, creative, and innovative solutions to our global climate crisis.

In March, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the state’s most significant climate legislation in more than a decade, An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy. This landmark legislation establishes critical long-term emissions reductions targets and provisions that will help Massachusetts transition to an equitable clean energy economy that delivers climate and economic benefits for all. And In early April, just days after attending NECEC’s annual Rhode Island Clean Energy Day, Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee signed the 2021 Act on Climate into law, which will set mandatory goals for the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years and lays the groundwork for transitioning to a majority of clean energy resources.

These bills align Massachusetts and Rhode Island with the latest science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicating that we must achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Massachusetts and Rhode Island have committed to 50 and 45 percent greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030 respectively, and net-zero by 2050. And, importantly, the bills improve the states’ efforts towards addressing environmental justice and driving a just and equitable transition. But perhaps most significantly, with these bills, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are carving the path for other states in our region and across our country to take equally ambitious action to address climate change.

In order to meet these bold new commitments, we need to rethink how we’ve done things in the past. We have many challenges ahead of us as we aim to meet these new commitments - but now is the time to accelerate our work. In the years ahead, NECEC and our partners across the clean energy industry will build on the momentum generated by these sweeping climate bills. We’ll support policies and innovations that aim to fully decarbonize the electric sector by 2030, decarbonize the building and transportation sectors, and ensure Environmental Justice communities, low income communities, and communities of color benefit from the clean energy economy. And we’ll work to remove existing barriers - including through interconnection and wholesale market reform - to make sure we have the infrastructure necessary to support the clean energy transition.  

With the help of states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island, our region and the entire country are on the road to achieving a just and sustainable clean energy economy of the future.

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