Labor leaders, business executives, and student activists discuss transition to 100% renewable energy

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Environment Massachusetts

Boston – Among growing calls for a transition away from fossil fuels, a diverse group of stakeholders gathered at the State House yesterday to discuss how to power Massachusetts with 100% clean, renewable sources of energy.

“I was grateful to be joined by my colleague and partner Representative Sean Garballey, renewable energy advocates, public health experts, business leaders, and labor representatives, as we continue to highlight the need for strong, meaningful legislation to combat climate change and move towards a just transition to 100% renewable energy in Massachusetts,” said Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. “Every day we continue to hear about the threat of climate change, but the reality is that we are already being impacted. Our public health, our public safety, and our economy are all suffering the effects of rising global temperatures, but we can help reverse some of these changes. This bill filed by Representative Garballey and myself ensures that environmental justice communities and labor are centered in a just transition towards a sustainable, renewable energy future.”

The 100% Renewable Energy Act (H.2836), filed by Representative Marjorie Decker and Representative Sean Garballey, would transition Massachusetts to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and 100% renewable energy sources for heating and transportation by 2045.

Similar legislation was filed in the Senate by Senator Jamie Eldridge. In total, 113 legislators, including a majority of members of the House and Senate, have cosponsored the 100% Renewable Energy Act.

Support for a future powered by 100% renewable energy is growing. Recently, the mayors of Somerville, New Bedford, Easthampton, and Worcester announced the launch of Mayors for 100% Renewable Energy, a new coalition supporting a statewide commitment to 100% renewable energy.

More than 50 environmental, civic, and business organizations have endorsed a statewide commitment to 100% renewable energy. Mass Power Forward, a statewide coalition with 200 member organizations, has included the 100% Renewable Energy Act among its top priorities for the 2019–2020 legislative session.

Through the RE100 initiative, more than 200 global companies have committed to a goal of 100% renewable energy. Major institutions have also committed to 100% renewable energy targets, including Boston University and Partners HealthCare.

Youth activists organized the Boston Climate Strike last Friday, calling for the passage of the 100% Renewable Energy Act as well as legislation for environmental justice and equitable investment in green infrastructure. Earlier in the week, MASSPIRG Students held a lobby day in support of the 100% Renewable Energy Act with college students from across Massachusetts.

Six states (Hawaii, California, New York, New Mexico, Washington, and Maine), along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have committed to phase out the use of fossil fuel electricity by 2050 or sooner. Under existing state law, Massachusetts would not reach 100% renewable electricity until 2095.

Statements from speakers:

”Climate change poses a threat to the health of the most vulnerable members of our community, including children who suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases. Massachusetts should go 100% renewable to help ensure a safe, healthy future for all.” – Alexander Rabin, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine

“Massachusetts’ climate leadership is the reason Nexamp exists. We are growing nationwide, sharing the lessons of our home state’s success, but there is more we can and should do. 100% renewable isn’t a goal, it is what’s necessary to respond to climate science.” – Ben Downing, Vice President, New Market Development, Nexamp

“Massachusetts has the technical, financial and regulatory brains, as well as the private capital and innovation economy, to lead the world to 100% healthy and renewable energy. Massachusetts’ public officials should look to the example of world’s fastest growing companies to help make our state the global hub of this technology-based revolution. The move from fuel-based energy to technology-based energy rivals the development of the internet in the breadth and depth of its impact, and the time for Massachusetts to seize top leadership is now.” – Jim Boyle, Chairman and CEO of Sustainability Roundtable, Inc., and a founding board member of the Alliance for Business Leadership

“Half the growth in renewable energy generation — a $64 billion market — has been due to Renewable Portfolio Standards. But the RPS legislation in our state is pathetically unambitious compared to other states. New York and California will reach 70% and 60% renewable electricity by 2030. Hawaii will have 100% by 2045. Massachusetts is taking baby steps when what we need are giant strides.” – Sara Singh, Sunrise Boston

“If there’s going to be a safe, healthy planet for my fellow students and I to live on, we need to shift to renewable energy as quickly as possible. Massachusetts should lead the nation toward a future powered by 100% clean, renewable energy.” – Andra Doan, UMass Boston MASSPIRG chapter

“The reality is inescapable: Fossil fuels pollute our air, water and land, threatening our health and changing our climate even faster than scientists predicted,” said. “At the Massachusetts Sierra Club, I’ve spent the last two years organizing at the local, municipal and state level and the overwhelming sentiment is that Massachusetts residents are ready to see the state transition to renewable energy. We need to seize the moment and lean into a future powered by clean renewable energy.” – Jacob Stern, Clean Energy Organizer, Massachusetts Chapter of the Sierra Club

“We can power our lives without polluting our air and water or changing our climate. I applaud Representative Decker and Representative Garballey for their leadership in bringing this legislation forward. We’re 100% determined to pass the 100% Renewable Energy Act in 2020.” – Ben Hellerstein, State Director, Environment Massachusetts