Baker, DeLeo, take note: Climate change will swamp mitigation efforts
Re “State may shift climate change funds” (Page A1, Feb. 28): Do we need to mitigate the consequences of our addiction to burning fossil fuels? Yes, if we want to protect much of our state from flooding; however, mitigation without sharp cuts in emissions is an environmental dead end. Increasingly severe climate change will literally swamp mitigation projects.
It’s easy to see why the governor might like the sound of mitigation: It provides a rationale for steering funds to construction projects and benefits powerful constituencies. In contrast, cutting emissions requires raising the price of carbon — and that requires leaders who are open to confronting a political backlash.
If Governor Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo want to be remembered for protecting the future of their state and its communities, they will have to show the courage to cut emissions sharply, beginning now. No amount of spending on mitigation can negate that reality.
We need to invest in cutting both emissions and resilience
We are very pleased to see the Baker administration working to identify funding solutions for cities and towns to pay for investments in climate resilience. The National Climate Assessment, released in November 2018, warned of dire impacts to the Northeast from climate change: more heavy rains, recurrent flooding, more heat-related deaths, more frequent droughts, more evacuated and displaced populations. In other words, climate change isn’t just sea level rise and storm surges on the coasts; it’s harm from flooding and intense heat for inland communities as well.
However, it is important that funding for climate resilience not cannibalize funding that is now paying for energy efficiency, because reducing energy use is a key strategy to reducing climate change; the more fossil fuel energy we continue to rely on, the more money we will need to pay for climate resilience.
Bottom line, we must have independent revenue sources for investing in both reducing fossil fuel use (such as through energy efficiency) and climate resilience.