Massachusetts’ Clean Energy Leadership has Significantly Reduced Carbon Emissions

Media Contacts
Ben Hellerstein

Former State Director, Environment Massachusetts

Environment Massachusetts

Click here to download a copy of the new Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center report, Moving America Forward.

Boston — Massachusetts’ clean energy and energy efficiency policies are significantly cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, the leading driver of global warming, according to a new report released today by Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center.

The report, Moving America Forward, shows that Massachusetts’ state-level energy efficiency policies, together with federal efficiency standards for lighting and appliances, reduced carbon pollution by at least 1.31 million metric tons in 2012. That is comparable to the annual emissions from more than 270,000 cars.

“Massachusetts is helping lead the way in the fight against global warming, with some of the strongest energy efficiency and renewable energy policies in the nation,” said Ben Hellerstein, field associate with Environment Massachusetts. “We’re making significant progress in cutting our carbon emissions, and we hope to see more and more states — and the federal government — continue to follow our lead.”

Scientists say extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy and Winter Storm Nemo are likely to become more frequent and severe if we don’t take action soon to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases driving global warming. Coal- and gas-fired power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution, accounting for more than 40% of carbon emissions nationwide.

In 2001, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to adopt enforceable limits on carbon dioxide pollution from power plants. These limits set the stage for the creation of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an agreement between Massachusetts and eight other northeastern states to cut global warming emissions.

Massachusetts was also a pioneer in adopting California’s Low Emission Vehicle standards for cars in 1990, and was among the first states to create a renewable energy standard in 1997. More recently, Massachusetts has been ranked the top state in the nation for energy efficiency by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in each of the last three years.

“Science shows us the danger of climate change. Massachusetts has shown the economic opportunity of addressing it,” said Senator Edward J. Markey. “Now we must press forward on the politics. We must support President Obama and EPA Administrator McCarthy in cutting carbon pollution from power plants. We must support the extension of wind and other clean energy tax credits. We must win this fight to protect people and the planet.”

Environment Massachusetts pointed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to move forward with limits on carbon pollution from power plants as the next major step to fight global warming and shift to clean energy. Right now, the EPA limits arsenic, lead, soot and other pollution from power plants, but not carbon pollution. The Obama administration has announced a timeline for moving forward with limits on carbon pollution from power plants, and the first set of standards, governing emissions from new plants, was proposed in September of last year.

“Each year, more and more New Englanders are taking action to reduce energy consumption and generate clean, renewable electricity for their homes,” said Geoff Chapin, CEO of Next Step Living, a Boston-based home-energy solutions company. “These actions make a tangible difference for our environment and help companies like Next Step Living create hundreds of green-collar careers. We encourage state leaders to continue their support for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, which translate into jobs and economic growth.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • Overall, state and federal policies are reducing Massachusetts’ carbon emissions by 2.1 million metric tons each year — the equivalent of the emissions produced by more than 430,000 cars.
  • Federal clean cars standards, inspired by measures taken by California, Massachusetts, and other states, have resulted in significant carbon pollution reductions across the country.
  • By 2020, the clean energy and energy efficiency policies already in place across the nation will prevent more than 500 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution, or about 9% of 2005 emissions.

“Thanks to policies adopted by state and federal leaders, companies like ours have been helping Massachusetts families and businesses reduce their global warming emissions and transition to clean energy, while creating jobs and growing our local economies,” said Joshua Glynn, sales manager for Aeronautica Windpower, a manufacturer of mid-scale wind turbines based in Plymouth. “I encourage state and federal officials to continue and strengthen policies that have made Massachusetts a leader for clean energy and energy efficiency.”

“Massachusetts has long been a leader in the fight against global warming,” Hellerstein concluded. “We’re excited to see the Obama administration move forward with national limits on carbon pollution from power plants, and we urge state leaders to keep raising the bar, so that Massachusetts can continue to lead the way on clean energy and energy efficiency.”


Environment Massachusetts is a state-based, citizen-funded, environmental advocacy organization working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future.