Preliminary estimates from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection are that the state’s 2020 greenhouse gas emissions were roughly 28.6 percent lower than 1990 emissions, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Theoharides told lawmakers Tuesday.
The secretary said the emissions reduction level has not been confirmed and is shaded by the major changes to transportation and social life thanks to the 2020 arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. But if confirmed, the drop would more than satisfy the state’s legal requirement that it reduced emissions by at least 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.
“I know you agree this is not necessarily cause for celebration. 2020 was an abnormal year by any stretch of the imagination, but we did also see the numbers ticking down in 2019. And so we do believe that the climate policies we’ve been implementing, the energy changes we’ve been making, are having a significant effect,” Theohardides said. “There is more work to be done, but we are very confident that we will hit our 2020 emissions targets.”
The secretary shared the estimate with Sen. Marc Pacheco and the Senate Global Warming and Climate Change Committee during a hearing held for Theoharides and her deputies to update lawmakers on the status of implementation of the 2021 climate roadmap law and the Baker administration’s development of the mandated 2025 and 2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plans.
As part of that law, Massachusetts must reduce emissions by at least 50 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030, at least 75 percent by 2040 and at least 85 percent by 2050 with tag-along policies to get the state to net-zero emissions by the middle of the century. By July 1, the secretary must adopt emissions limits and sector-specific sublimits for 2025 and 2030, and publish “comprehensive, clear and specific” plans to achieve them.
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