Experts, advocates ask Boston to adopt strong climate plan

For Immediate Release

Boston – Clean energy experts and environmental advocates delivered a letter today urging Mayor Martin Walsh’s support for ambitious measures to reduce global warming emissions and increase renewable energy.

“Dirty energy is a global problem, but some of the biggest solutions are local,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “Boston can be a national leader in the transition to 100 percent renewable energy if Mayor Walsh steps up and seizes the opportunity.”

In 2017, Mayor Walsh pledged that Boston would be carbon-neutral by 2050.

Officials are in the beginning stages of revising the city’s climate action plan, which lays out the steps that Boston will take to reduce global warming pollution, in order to meet this goal. The Boston Green Ribbon Commission and the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Boston University is producing a “Carbon Free Boston” report to help guide the city’s efforts.

“While Boston has led on climate action in the past, the city’s current efforts are lagging behind other municipalities in the United States and around the world,” said Joan Fitzgerald, Professor at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. “I’m encouraged to see Mayor Walsh commit to a goal of zero carbon emissions, and I hope that Boston’s plan will utilize the full range of innovative strategies employed by other cities.”

In recent months, activists have urged the city to accelerate the implementation of a Community Choice Energy program, which would increase the percentage of renewable electricity provided to residents and businesses. Local groups have also expressed concerns over a wave of new buildings that are designed to use fossil fuels rather than renewable energy for heating.

“We know that the City of Boston is in the midst of its third-biggest building boom, with some 70 to 90 million new square footage of development going up across the city,” said Michele Brooks, Boston Community Organizer for Massachusetts Sierra Club. “Nearly all of the new development is projected to be serviced with natural gas. If we're serious about reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, we cannot continue to build out more carbon polluting infrastructure; we must make the transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.”

The letter asks city officials to implement a plan with an emphasis on local and additional sources of clean energy generation, and urges the city not to rely on action from the state or federal government to achieve the transition to zero carbon emissions and 100 percent renewable energy.

The letter includes more than 20 policy recommendations to reduce global warming pollution from electricity generation, buildings, transportation, and waste.

“For the sake of a healthy, safe, vibrant Boston, Mayor Walsh should adopt an ambitious climate action plan,” said Hellerstein. “We’re ready to assist the Mayor and city officials in any way we can."

Click here to view the letter to Mayor Walsh.

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Environment Massachusetts is the statewide, citizen-supported environmental advocacy organization working to protect clean air, clean water, and open space.