There’s a difference between setting goals and making progress
Re “Pushing up climate goals here would be daunting: Mass. efforts have targeted 2050, but UN report may mean it’s not soon enough” (Page A1, March 22): There is a difference between setting goals and achieving progress on climate change. I once heard former Somerville mayor Joe Curtatone say that making policy is glamorous but that the glory is in implementation. Massachusetts is way behind on achieving its ambitions. We need to be retrofitting thousands of buildings and converting thousands of vehicles to electric every year, and we are nowhere near the necessary pace. Moving the goal post isn’t going to change that.
Instead of focusing on the goal, let’s work on setting up the right mix of policies and programs to get the job done. The crux of our challenge is existing buildings and vehicles. The new energy codes mostly help with new buildings, and incentives rely on voluntary action. There are good ideas out there, including building performance standards; the decarbonization program in Ithaca, N.Y.; time-of-sale requirements; and others.
Massachusetts is already ahead of many states and nations in its climate ambition. Let’s get on with implementing the aggressive plans we already have.
The writer is a former climate planner with the City of Cambridge and is a member of the Concord Climate Action Committee. The views expressed here are his own.
Biomass-based diesel is an available option
Sabrina Shankman and Emma Platoff’s front-page story appropriately focuses on the UN’s new report on climate change, which urges developing nations to move up net-zero targets by 10 years. While the story quotes state Senator Michael Barrett and others fretting over how “complicated” it would be for the state to realistically meet its climate mandates in 2050, let alone 2040, Barrett and others fail to mention an immediate carbon reduction pathway that is at our fingertips: biomass-based diesel for heating and transportation use. It’s affordable and available.
California is already well ahead of Massachusetts, establishing policies that promote low- or zero-carbon liquid fuel use that put that state on track to displace nearly half of the fossil-fuel-based diesel pool used last year — well before 2030 and 2040. Massachusetts should join states such as California, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island in incentivizing biomass-based diesel in hard-to-electrify areas such as home heating and medium- and heavy-duty transportation. Such a move would provide immediate carbon reductions, and it’s not complicated.
Stephen C. Dodge
Director of state regulatory affairs
Clean Fuels Alliance America
The alliance, formerly known as the National Biodiesel Board, has its headquarters in Jefferson City, Mo.
Let’s see a statewide drive to decarbonize building stock equitably
Mayor Michelle Wu’s recent announcement of a $10 million investment in deep energy retrofits for affordable multifamily buildings in Boston is a resounding endorsement of efforts to equitably decarbonize our building stock. It’s crucial that these efforts are expanded statewide (“Wu seeks pro-climate building code,” Metro, March 17).
Right now, existing buildings contribute nearly one-third of the Commonwealth’s total carbon emissions. Making our buildings more efficient — through building electrification, insulation upgrades, heat pump installations, and other energy-saving retrofits — would help us hit our climate goals, improve public health and resiliency, and lower reliance on fossil fuels. It’s high time we put these energy-efficient changes within reach for everyone, and especially for those who face the greatest barriers to participation in our clean energy transition.
A $300 million Zero Carbon Renovation Fund would help us do just that. Legislation to establish such a fund is pending on Beacon Hill, and we urge our legislators to further catalyze a just and equitable transition to a clean energy future, as Boston is doing, by passing this bill.
Senior program officer
Local Initiatives Support Corporation is a nonprofit community development organization with local offices across the country. LISC is a member of the Zero Carbon Renovation Fund Coalition in Massachusetts.
Students are pushing for climate education. Will lawmakers respond?
Massachusetts touts high educational standards but ranks with the lowest states regarding education in climate change, according to a 2022 study of state curriculums.
Dharna Noor’s article “Officials push to bolster climate education in schools” (Metro, March 20) highlights this problem. New Jersey and Connecticut each mandate climate education in schools. Oregon, California, and New York plan to follow suit.
Children deserve support as they inherit a changing planet. As an educator, I teach some students who are anxious about what the future holds for them. Others know little. Both groups may face a future of heat, storms, droughts, fires, famines, and ecological collapse. They deserve to be informed. They will need to know how to both mitigate and adapt to these problems.
Student activists, environmental advocates, and teachers developed an interdisciplinary curriculum to be integrated into Massachusetts’ standards last year, but bills died in committee. This year, they are trying again.
Our young people have everything at stake.
The writer is a member of the climate action network of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.