The Legislature’s original bill would have allowed 10 communities — Cambridge, Newton, Brookline, Lexington, Arlington, Concord, Lincoln, Acton, Aquinnah, and West Tisbury — to adopt bans. To implement the bans, communities would first have to ensure at least 10 percent of their ...
Buildings, along with transportation, make up nearly 99% of Boston’s carbon emissions. The legislative package includes multiple efforts to reduce emissions, including a plan to get the state to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Also included in the bill is a plan to jump-start efforts to supply low-cost solar electricity to low-income communities, setting a deadline for converting MBTA buses to all-electric power and a goal of getting an entirely zero-emissions fleet by 2040.
Existing state law — the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act — set the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050. The package of bills unveiled Thursday would effectively set a goal of 100% below 1990 levels.
Barrett, a Lexington Democrat, has been filing bills since 2013 that propose a revenue-neutral carbon fee, with the money generated returned to Massachusetts citizens.
“For several years the bill struggled,” Barrett said. “We did not find traction in the House in particular. I want to be respectful of the legislative branches and respectful of the governor. It seemed to me after two or three years that we weren’t moving quickly enough. I decided I wanted to put a price on carbon by any path we could lay our hands on, so I backed away from my preferred method.”
Giving latitude to the governor rather than spelling out a specific mechanism helped get more senators on board with the idea of carbon pricing last session, Barrett said.
Supporters of the legislative package say it would counter efforts by the Republican administration of President Donald Trump to slow the progress of energy-efficient appliances by updating the state’s own appliance standards to improve energy and water standards for household and commercial appliances.
The Massachusetts Senate unveiled a three-bill package that sets a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 100 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, instead of the state’s current target of cutting emissions by 80 percent by the deadline.
The package would not only update the state’s 2050 emissions target, but would also create limits for emissions every five years, starting in 2025 and create a commission to review whether the state is on pace to meet its obligations.
Sen. Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat, said lawmakers have been working on the climate change package since July and let the Baker administration know of their plans in November.
“The idea here isn’t to cop a headline or spring a surprise. We really want consensus … I was very impressed and very grateful to the governor for having embraced net-zero earlier this week,” Barrett said.
Spilka and Senator Michael J. Barrett, who has been crafting the climate legislation since June, said they both support Baker’s pursuit of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, or TCI, an ambitious but controversial pact among eastern states that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and could raise gas prices by as much as 17 cents a gallon.
But Barrett, who’s unsuccessfully pushed for years to create taxes or fees on carbon, suggested it’s more politically feasible to pursue a pricing method if the legislation includes options.
“I decided to shift focus from trying to be prescriptive to setting deadlines. If you can move from the tool to the timeline, you can actually get a lot more support,” Barrett said.
“It’s not a spending bill,” the Lexington Democrat added of the Senate’s proposal. “It really is a bill to mobilize state government and have us focused in one direction.”