CALC Policy Fellow
Our meeting with gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman last Friday gave us a glimpse into his platform on climate change and the future of fossil fuels in the state of Massachusetts. The Commonwealth currently champions climate leadership in the nation – to ensure continued efforts on a systemic transformation, the next governor and administration must adopt a more radical approach to the climate crisis that combines a far-sighted vision of an alternate society and an honest address of the limited timeframe suggested by prolific climate science.
Notwithstanding our deep-rooted fossil fuel fundamentalism, zero-carbon clean energy sources and technologies exist and are readily available – the only missing element stands to be government procurement. A clean energy and zero-carbon economy now relies on new policies – not new technologies. The price gap between these technologies and conventional dirty fuels stands to be the only barrier that is reining capitalist economies in from rapid and full-scale implementation.
This is a structural issue of our time that needs to be addressed by undermining the forces of this industry and leveling the playing field for clean energy sources. Grossman’s call for the largest fossil fuel companies to come clean about climate change is a step forward, and his comments about divestment are also encouraging. He calls for the disincentivization of fossil fuel consumption, invalidating sentiments “We are going to lose money, it is going to hurt us” shared by naysayers, saying that they are simply “not true”.
Grossman’s track record of financing environmentally sound projects demonstrates credibility, consistent with his belief “The way to get people to adopt best practices is to show them best practices, but not in a didactic way”. As State Treasurer, he helped Massachusetts become the first state in the country to sell green bonds, which directly funded statewide environmentally sound infrastructure projects.
Acknowledging that citizen activism is growing, Grossman also calls for a bottom up approach, as “no serious societal change ever came from the top deck, but rather, on grassroots activism”. As we are currently at the junction where we can take grassroots effort and clean energy development to rethink our grids, we hope to see Grossman take bold climate action while “advocating for bills from the bottom up” if he were elected as governor.
Largely agreed by environmental economists, putting a price on carbon is the single most important thing the U.S. could structuralize to accelerate the transition to clean energy – one that is scientifically sound, politically pragmatic and economically rational. Though CALC reassured Grossman of the importance of a carbon tax, seeing that Massachusetts can become the working model referenced by other state, federal and even global policy makers, we have yet to see him take a strong stance on it.
On the road to the elections this fall, CALC continues to meet with gubernatorial candidates, calling on them to define their climate legacy, and to push for, accelerate and eventually complete a transition to a low-carbon civilization in the state of Massachusetts.