In August 2008, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), making Massachusetts one of the first states in the nation to move forward with a comprehensive regulatory program to address Climate Change.

The GWSA required the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA), in consultation with other state agencies and the public, to set economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals for Massachusetts that will achieve reductions of:

  • Between 10 percent and 25 percent below statewide 1990 GHG emission levels by 2020.
  • 80 percent below statewide 1990 GHG emission levels by 2050.

To ensure that these goals will be met, the Global Warming Solutions Act required the Commonwealth to:

  • Establish regulations requiring reporting of greenhouse gas emissions by the Commonwealth's largest sources by January 1, 2009. These reports will provide important data about the actual types and levels of GHG emissions in the Commonwealth.
  • Establish a baseline assessment of statewide GHG emissions in 1990, which will be used to measure progress toward meeting the emission reduction goals of the Act.  The Legislature chose 1990 as the base year for these measurements because it is the base year used by many local, state and international climate agreements (including the Kyoto Protocol).
  • Develop a projection of the likely statewide GHG emissions for 2020 under a "business as usual" scenario that assumes that no targeted efforts to reduce emissions are implemented. This projection estimates the levels of greenhouse gas emissions that will come from Massachusetts sources if no government action is implemented to require reductions, and will be used to analyze the extent of emission reductions that will be required to achieve the 2020 target established in the Act.
  • Establish target emission reductions that must be achieved by 2020, and a plan for achieving them. The GWSA requires that these must be established by January 1, 2011.
  • Through an advisory committee, analyze strategies and make recommendations for adapting to climate change. The GWSA requires that the committee reports to the Legislature by December 31, 2009.

EOEEA established two advisory committees to provide input on the implementation of the GWSA:

  • The Climate Protection and Green Economy Advisory Committee to advise the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs on measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the GWSA.
  • The Climate Change Adaptation Advisory Committee to study and make recommendations on strategies for adapting to climate change.

Also in August 2008, Governor Patrick signed the Green Communities Act (GCA), a comprehensive reform of the Massachusetts energy marketplace that will greatly improve the state's ability to meet the GWSA targets. The GCA promotes a dramatic expansion in energy efficiency, supports the development of renewable energy resources, creates a new greener state building code, removes barriers to renewable energy installations, stimulates technology innovation, and helps consumers reduce electric bills. It also created the Green Communities Program, providing Massachusetts cities and towns with energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting

Reporting of greenhouse gas emissions provides data that is important for developing emission reduction targets and plans, and for measuring progress toward goals. The Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) required the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to promulgate mandatory greenhouse gas reporting regulations. (See Sections 2 and 10 of the Act, found at M.G.L. Chapter 21N).

MassDEP issued an emergency regulation (310 CMR 7.71) on December 29, 2008, that identified what types of facilities are required to report (see a list), required those facilities to register with MassDEP by April 15, 2009, and requires reporters to use the calculation methodologies published in The Climate Registry General Reporting Protocol.

In June 2009, MassDEP finalized amendments to the greenhouse gas reporting regulation. These changes included, but were not limited to, additional provisions to address statutory requirements such as verification, voluntary reporting and reporting by retail sellers of electricity. These amendments were developed following three stakeholder meetings and a public hearing.

To learn more, see: Massachusetts Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program

Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Level

The GWSA required MassDEP to establish a baseline assessment of statewide greenhouse gas emissions in 1990, which will be used to measure progress toward meeting GWSA emission reduction goals. The Act also required MassDEP to establish a projection of likely statewide greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, under a "business as usual" scenario, which assumes that no new targeted requirements for reducing emissions will be established. This projection will be used to analyze options for emission reduction requirements, and to determine the extent of reductions that will be needed to meet GWSA goals.

The Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, MassDEP and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources jointly issued a 1990 Baseline and 2020 "Business As Usual" Projection This document was developed following a series of public meetings and a public hearing.

For additional information, see: Climate Change