Around New England

‘Net-Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050,’ Charlie Baker Says — Without Saying How

January 22, 2020

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker pledged that the state will have “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 — the year he turns 94.

Baker made the promise during his annual State of the Commonwealth address on Tuesday, January 21. It’s less ambitious than the 2030 deadline set by supporters of the Green New Deal but far beyond the goals of climate change skeptics.

Baker touted two proposed ocean wind-turbine projects and a Canadian hydropower project as means of reducing carbon emissions.

“But yesterday’s solutions and yesterday’s plans are no longer sufficient. We must continue to take bold action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” Baker said. “So tonight, I’m committing the Commonwealth to achieving an ambitious climate goal:  net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

Baker didn’t explain in detail how that would happen, but he touted the carbon-emissions fee on fuel called for by the Transportation and Climate Initiative. The fee would add up to 17 cents a gallon for drivers at the pump in states from Maine to Virginia if they go ahead with it. But the projected gasoline price increase has scared off the governors of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut.

Baker did not refer to the growing opposition to the plan during his speech.

Instead, Baker suggested the proposed state-imposed fee on fuel suppliers would provide “market mechanisms” that would “encourage” companies “to find efficiencies and deploy cleaner fuels.”

Baker wants to use the money from the carbon-emissions fee on fuel providers to expand public transportation and “transform[] our highways,” he said.

“Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation have been on the rise for decades and now represent 40 percent of this state’s total emissions. Unless we take on transportation, we won’t meet our objectives,” Baker said. “And I get that this is going to be hard. But together, I believe we have a real opportunity, and a responsibility to achieve a significant reduction in transportation emissions.”