Massachusetts Lawmakers Ready to Lead at U.N. Climate Talks
By Emma McGrath
BOSTON, MA, November 2nd, 2017 — Massachusetts lawmakers, business leaders, and community advocates gathered this evening for a send-off for the state’s delegation to the upcoming 2017 U.N. Climate Talks in Bonn, Germany. The event came a day after the House voted to commit Massachusetts to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
The send-off, which was hosted by Climate Action Business Association (CABA) and Climate XChange, highlighted the Commonwealth’s dedication to climate action in light of the Trump administration’s repeal of the Clean Power Plan and withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Four Massachusetts lawmakers, including Rep. Jennifer Benson and Sen. Michael Barrett, sponsors of two carbon pricing bills; Rep. Josh Cutler, and Rep. Jim Cantwell,who both represent coastal communities that are vulnerable to sea level rise; and CABA Executive Director Michael Green, will represent the Commonwealth in Bonn.
The delegation will meet with island nation presidents to talk about sea level rise and coastal resilience, share ideas with leaders from across the globe, and demonstrate Massachusetts’ commitment to bold action on climate.
“Since the federal government has abandoned its leadership on the issue by signaling that the United States will leave the Paris Agreement, it is vital that states take up the mantle of leadership on climate change,” said Rep. Jennifer Benson. “Greenhouse gas emissions are causing the earth to warm at an alarming rate, and the consequences of climate change are being felt in every corner of the world.”
Rep. Benson added, “Economists, environmentalists, and public policy experts agree that establishing a carbon pricing system is the most effective and efficient way to curb emissions. Right now, bold leadership is needed in every state legislature to pass carbon pricing systems to reduce emissions, and do what we can do to reverse the effects of climate change.”
The event featured a keynote address from Naomi Oreskes, a Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, who explored the importance of local leaders creating climate solutions in the absence of federal action.
Sen. Mike Barrett said, “Action by subnational governments around the world — states, provinces, and cities — is crucial to sustaining the Paris Agreement. Then the challenge gets bigger. After 2025, U.S. carbon reductions, year by year, will need to descend more steeply than ever. To make up for Washington’s walk away from its climate obligations, Massachusetts, California, New York, and other states need to go even further than achieving their pro rata share of America’s emissions reduction goals. These vanguard states will really need to lead.”
The delegation hopes to demonstrate in Bonn that while federal priorities have shifted away from climate change, commitment on the state level will not waver.
“The people and businesses of Massachusetts want action on climate change, and that must be reflected in our state policy,” said CABA Executive Director Michael Green.“The move toward a low-carbon future is happening. If Washington drops the ball, Massachusetts stands ready to pick it up and carry it forward.”
About the Author: Emma McGrath is a recent graduate of Northeastern University, where she studied International Affairs and Spanish. During her time at Northeastern, she held three co-ops, most recently with the Office of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren. Prior to that, she worked for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and NBC News. As a student, she served as President of the Northeastern University Political Review, and studied abroad in Turkey, Germany and Argentina. Her interests include renewable energy policy, urban planning, and climate resilience. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying the outdoors, exploring New England, and spilling coffee on everything she owns.