Sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution in Massachusetts are diverse and distributed throughout our economy, with 90% of the Commonwealth’s GHG emissions stemming from transportation, electricity use, and buildings.
In 2014, gasoline and diesel fuel burned for road, rail, air, and marine transportation released 39% of the Commonwealth’s GHG pollution. The fuel used to heat commercial buildings and homes and for industrial processes released 38%. The coal, natural gas, and oil used to generate electricity emitted 20%, and the remaining 3% came from sources including agriculture, waste, wastewater, landfill gas, and highly warming chemicals for refrigeration and semiconductor manufacturing.
State policies are shifting our energy generation away from high carbon-intensity fuels like coal and making it easier to develop renewable energy sources. However, the vast majority of the Commonwealth’s emissions come from everyday activities of our residents, and - whether it’s taking the T one day instead of driving or switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs – everyday actions can have a real impact. State policy also targets these everyday decisions with programs that make it less expensive up-front to replace an old, inefficient home heating system or to purchase an electric vehicle – among many others!
Electricity and waste to energy facilities are the largest individual emission sources. In Massachusetts, and across the northeast, the larger power plants are regulated under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Since RGGI was enacted in 2009, both electric sector GHGs and wholesale prices have declined about 30%. The decline was principally caused by reduced generation from oil and coal, and increased generation from natural gas, renewables, and nuclear, as well as by energy efficiency. Text version of the above graphic
Total GHG emissions from building heating have fallen gradually in recent decades, driven principally by energy efficiency measures and fuel switching from oil to less carbon intensive natural gas heating systems. In 2014, GHG emission from residential heating needs totaled slightly over 14 MMTCO2e, or approximately 19% of the Commonwealth’s total. Text version of the above graph next / previous
Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) has grown steadily for the last few decades. Economic recessions or growth, fluctuating gas prices, better communications technology, changes in consumer transportation preference, and other factors affect VMT in any given year. The transportation sector is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the Commonwealth. Reducing VMTs or increasing fuel-efficient vehicles – including the growth of electric vehicles – is critically important to reducing our state’s carbon footprint. Text version of the above graph