Massachusetts Joins California and New Mexico to Cut GHGs 25% Below 1990 by 2020

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On the last day of 2010, Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles set the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit for 2020. Given a range of 10% below to 25% below 1990 levels, Bowles has now selected the maximum authorized by the Act.

The 2008 Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act had required him to decide where to set the 2020 goal by January 1, 2011, based on what might be deemed achievable at that (then) future date.

As a mark of how easy it is to actually achieve these goals – despite the media hysteria the idea of greenhouse gas reductions seems to evoke – he set it at the most ambitious target, noting that measures already in place are already close to getting Massachusetts much of the way toward getting 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 anyway.

Last month, New Mexico passed 25% below 1990 by 2020 legislation using cap and trade and California held onto its landmark cap and trade plans to reach the same goal, despite a ballot measure designed to kill it.

The three states have plans to meet the target that scientists say we must achieve by 2050 or face dangerous climate destabilization that could lead to permanent runaway global warming for a 100,000 years or more.

In each of these cases, the 2020 goal is the first step towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

This amounts to an average of just 2% a year, if adopted early, as Massachusetts has done. The longer states leave it, the more draconian and unaffordable the cuts will be, and the more scarce the materials will be to make the necessary changes. China has already clamped down on the rare earth exports needed to build wind turbines and electric cars.

Massachusetts is already operating in a cap and trade economy as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which uses funds from polluters to pay for the needed changes to energy efficient buildings and clean energy sources like solar and wind, to achieve the 2020 goal.

His department was also required to issue a plan for achieving those reductions while growing the clean energy economy. (Massachusetts GWSA plan PDF)

Among some new policy ideas is an interesting pilot program for Pay As You Drive auto insurance, intended to incentivize drivers to reduce miles driven where possible with lower premiums for staying under a quota.

But the current ideas are already very effective.

Like New Jersey and several other RGGI states, Massachusetts residents can already earn cash from solar with SRECs. Overall, Massachusetts has among the best solar incentives in the nation.

Image: GWSA plan PDF

Susan Kraemer@Twitter

More on achieving GHG goals:
4 US States Have Lowered Greenhouse Gas Emissions Below 1990 Levels
Scotland on Track to Get 80% Renewable Energy by 2020

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