The Baker-Polito Administration today issued its formal determination letter establishing net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as the Commonwealth’s new legal emissions limit for 2050.  The release of the letter follows a month-long public comment period during which the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) received input and engagement regarding the details of the state’s new net zero limit. Later this year, the Commonwealth will release a 2050 Roadmap outlining pathways to achieve the emissions limit.

“On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we are proud to continue Massachusetts’ national leadership on climate change by formally committing the Commonwealth to an ambitious net zero emissions limit,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This limit will guide our efforts to combat climate change, protect residents and communities, and ensure Massachusetts’ natural resources are protected and preserved for future generations.”

“Communities in all parts of the Commonwealth are already feeling the impacts of climate change and now is the time to take bold steps towards addressing it,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The theme of Earth Day this year is climate action, and our Administration is proud to mark the day with an ambitious commitment to address climate change and protect the Commonwealth for generations to come.”

Governor Baker announced the new net zero target during his State of the Commonwealth address in January, 2020. In 2018, the International Panel on Climate Change called for countries to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) requires the EEA Secretary to adopt a statewide GHG emissions limit for 2050 that is at least 80 percent below the state’s 1990 emissions level, as well as interim limits for 2030 and 2040.

The formal determination letter issued today sets the legal limit under the GWSA as a level of statewide greenhouse gas emissions that is equal in quantity to the amount of carbon dioxide or its equivalent that is removed from the atmosphere and stored annually by, or attributable to, the Commonwealth; provided, however, that the level of emissions will not be greater than a level that is 85 percent below the 1990 level.

“Adopting a more aggressive, science-based emissions limit for 2050 and backing it up with a plan to get there sets us on the best path to avoid the worst impacts of climate change while investing in our communities and growing our clean energy economy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides.“We look forward to continuing our collaboration with experts and stakeholders to create a 2050 Roadmap, which will outline the most effective pathways to achieve our emissions reductions goals.”

The Commonwealth is working to determine how best to achieve this emissions limit through its 2050 Roadmap, a nation-leading quantitative and qualitative planning effort that will chart multiple technical and policy pathways by which the Commonwealth can equitably and cost-effectively achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and will conclude with the publication of a long-range 2050 Roadmap report. The state’s 2050 Roadmap analysis will directly inform the state’s 2030 emissions limit, which will be set at the end of this year together with the publication of a second report detailing the state’s plan to achieve that limit, the Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030.

EEA held public meetings and a webinar on the draft determination letter and the 2050 Roadmap throughout March and April, and received comments from over 1,000 people and entities on the draft letter.