Global warming “game-changers” will slash emissions, boost Massachusetts’ economy

Media Contacts
Ben Hellerstein

Former State Director, Environment Massachusetts

Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center


Boston — Massachusetts can rapidly cut its carbon emissions by embracing ten “game-changing” opportunities, and local businesses are poised to benefit, according to two reports released today by the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center.

“Massachusetts is proving that fighting global warming and growing our economy go hand-in-hand,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “With support from our state’s leaders, we can cut carbon emissions rapidly while promoting the growth of innovative Massachusetts businesses.”

Cool Solutions, a report from the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group, identifies ten game-changers in the fields of clean energy, energy efficiency, and transportation that will help Massachusetts rapidly reduce its contribution to global warming.

Under the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), enacted in 2008, Massachusetts is required to cut its carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Although significant progress has been made, the state is not yet on track to meet the targets set by the GWSA.

A companion to the report, Cool Innovators, profiles Massachusetts companies and projects that are already implementing these game-changers, reducing the state’s carbon emissions while creating jobs and promoting local economic activity.

“Massachusetts’ clean energy industry is growing rapidly — cutting carbon emissions while creating tens of thousands of jobs,” said Geoff Chapin, CEO of Next Step Living. “Next Step Living has been able to help more than 100,000 Massachusetts homeowners save energy and money in part due to the Bay State’s progressive energy efficiency and clean energy policies. Continuing to support and promote these policies is fundamental to the state’s ongoing success.”

The GWSA requires the state to set interim targets to ensure progress towards the ultimate goal of 80 percent emission reductions by 2050. Cool Solutions recommends that state officials adopt an interim target of cutting carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030.

With supportive state policies in place, the game-changing technologies profiled in the report could make up the bulk of the additional emissions reductions required to hit the proposed 2030 target. These game-changers include:

  • clean energy: solar photovoltaics, offshore wind energy, and energy storage;
  • better buildings: new energy efficiency tools, renewable heating and cooling, and zero net-energy buildings; and
  • smart transportation: urbanization and smart growth, reinventing public transportation, new transportation tools, and electric vehicles.

“The City of Boston is demonstrating that reducing carbon emissions is also good for the economy,” said Austin Blackmon, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space for the City of Boston. “Our city is home to some of the nation’s leading clean tech companies. By tapping into opportunities for renewable energy and energy efficiency and by expanding access to public transportation through projects like the new Yawkey Station, Boston is poised to reach its climate goals.”

“Massachusetts has the technology and the tools to take leadership in the fight against global warming,” said Tony Dutzik, Senior Policy Analyst with Frontier Group and co-author of the report. “Setting a strong greenhouse gas reduction goal for 2030, as required by the Global Warming Solutions Act, is the first step in putting those tools to use.”

Cool Innovators, the companion to the report, includes profiles of Massachusetts companies that are already implementing these game-changing technologies and ideas. Companies profiled in Cool Innovators include EnergySage, which runs an online comparison-shopping tool for consumers interested in going solar; Sparkplug Power, which is developing energy storage technology that will help reduce Massachusetts’ reliance on dirty sources of energy; and Zipcar, the international carsharing company based in Boston.

Cool Innovators also profiles Rhode Island companies that are taking part in the construction of the Block Island Wind Farm, the nation’s first offshore wind project. Massachusetts’ offshore wind industry is poised to take off with the recent auction of a large area of ocean south of Martha’s Vineyard for wind development.

“Massachusetts has long been a hotbed of clean tech innovation,” said Mark Vasu, Executive Vice President of Greentown Labs. “Today, companies at Greentown Labs are developing the next generation of technologies that will lead to rapid reductions in carbon emissions. With continued support from state leaders, we can ensure that Massachusetts remains a leader in this field.”

According to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, clean energy companies — including energy efficiency, solar, wind, and other technologies — employ more than 88,000 workers in Massachusetts. Since 2010, the number of clean energy jobs in Massachusetts has increased by 28,000.

“I firmly believe in cleaner energy, and that is why I filed Senate legislation for a greenhouse gas emissions limit between 35 and 45 percent below the 1990 emissions level by 2030,” said Senator Marc R. Pacheco, author of the Global Warming Solutions Act and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. “Within Senate Bill 458, I also included a benchmark for 2040 that limits emissions between 55 and 65 percent below the 1990 emissions level. The clean energy sector in Massachusetts is currently a $10 billion industry; our clean energy economy will be strengthened even further by meeting these interim goals. Putting these figures in place represents a political will to protect our environment and secure a clean energy future for our planet.”

“Massachusetts is a national leader in the fight against climate change, fostering a thriving clean energy economy and becoming the top state in energy efficiency,” said Representative Frank I. Smizik, Chairman of the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. “Although we have made progress in reaching the goals set in the GWSA, we must continue constructing smart and targeted policies and leading the way with innovative solutions to reducing our carbon emissions.”

On August 3, President Barack Obama announced the final version of the Clean Power Plan, the biggest step the United States has ever taken to fight global warming. The Clean Power Plan builds on the leadership of Massachusetts and other states by creating the first-ever federal limits on carbon emissions from power plants, the country’s largest source of global warming pollution.

“Massachusetts has made major progress in fighting global warming while creating a booming clean tech industry,” said Hellerstein. “But we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. Governor Charlie Baker and other state leaders should take full advantage of game-changing opportunities to cut carbon emissions, and put Massachusetts on track towards meeting the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act.”


The Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.