Incentivizing fossil fuels just makes goal more elusive
Upgrading millions of homes to clean energy heating systems, as mandated by state climate law, will bring enormous climate and health benefits. We should not make this job harder, or squander this opportunity, by incentivizing fossil fuels (“Incentives clash with goals for climate: Utility rebates for heating systems under fire for promoting fossil fuels,” Page A1, July 11).
Subsidizing fossil fuels creates both climate and financial risks to ratepayers and to utility company investors like the Massachusetts state pension plan. By incentivizing use of natural gas, we’re throwing money at new gas pipelines that are set to become obsolete with a low-carbon economy in sight.
To protect families from paying what would amount to millions for a defunct energy system, we should focus on incentivizing only technologies of the future: electric heat pumps fueled by 100 percent clean energy. Heat pumps also cool homes, and with climate-fueled heat waves becoming more common, this new and efficient technology should be incentivized as a solution to keep households safe in the heat.
Pouring millions into fossil fuel subsidies we do not need and cannot afford would be a costly mistake. We need to pursue an equitable transition to clean energy in homes now.
Climate Finance Action
Fee on carbon would make the greatest impact
Thanks to Sabrina Shankman for a great piece on the current incentive structures’ potential impact on carbon emissions in Massachusetts and for highlighting the shortcomings that will prevent us from meeting the state’s ambitious climate goals. While Mass Save may have successfully reduced carbon emissions by swapping one fossil fuel for another, the erratic, and in some cases unlivable, weather seen around the globe this summer shows that we need much more.
Dealing with such a grand problem with such considerable implications for our infrastructure can cause many to despair. But the response to a complicated problem is not to become resigned to it. There is a bill in Congress that would put the right incentives in place.
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act disincentivizes the use of fossil fuels altogether, using an annually increasing fee on dirty energy. It targets polluters, collecting a fee on carbon at the point of extraction, while redistributing the proceeds to the individual. Making polluters pay not only charges for the supplier’s negative impact on the environment and population but also would lead to innovation and growth for alternative, clean energy sources. Please promote a stable future by asking your elected officials to support this important bill.
Relying on electricity won’t get us there
Regarding “Incentives clash with goals for climate,” the proposed greater reliance on electricity for home heating to replace fossil fuels could not be a more dramatic illustration of an upside-down world.
A quick Internet search reports that 35 percent of the nation’s energy originates from petroleum, 34 percent from natural gas, 10 percent from coal, 12 percent from renewable energy, and 9 percent from nuclear power, according to the US Energy Information Administration. So what are these electricity-producing plants running on now and any time into the near future? Primarily fossil fuels.
So the idea of relying less on fossil fuels by converting to electricity in homes, not to mention the heavy use of energy to recharge electric cars, is just a feel-good notion but out of touch with reality.
We have much to address and change in our approach to climate, energy, and related environmental issues. But this “solution” is far from a solution.
Stephen J. Nelson
Mass Save needs to focus on the best approaches
Bill Gates, in his new book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” argues that we need to keep our eyes firmly fixed on the goal of net zero carbon by 2050. Interim partial goals between now and then may provide useful milestones, but they can also backfire if they encourage us to implement partial solutions that get in the way of the essential goal of net zero by 2050.
The Globe’s article shows that Mass Save is currently part of the problem. Installing more-efficient fossil fuel boilers helps achieve interim partial goals, but it interferes with doing what we really need to do: Stop whacking our planet’s basic systems by 2050.
I hope that the new Mass Save program that will be approved in January will emphasize good insulation and air sealing (which increase comfort while decreasing utility bills) and heat pumps (which both provide winter warmth and help people stay cool and safe during our ever-more-frequent heat waves). New fossil fuel boilers are counterproductive and should not be part of the mix.