Executive Summary: To do its part in the global fight against climate change, Massachusetts must achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century, and aggressive intermediate goals are essential to ensure that the state is on track for net zero. Senate bill 2500, “An Act setting next generation climate policy,” stipulates that 2030 emissions must “not be less than 50% below the 1990 emissions level.” In 2017, Massachusetts carbon dioxide emissions were 22% below 1990 levels, so the state will need to reduce annual emissions by an additional 28% of 1990 levels by 2030. If enacted, S.2500 would give the state important new tools that would significantly reduce emissions. However, our analysis suggests that additional policies beyond those in S.2500 will likely be necessary to reliably achieve the 2030 goal of cutting emissions in half from 1990 levels.
With no new policies enacted (but not accounting for COVID-19), we estimate that 2030 emissions will be roughly 35% below 1990 levels (Figure 1, BAU). We use a range of policy proposals to approximate the key policies in S.2500: the Transportation and Climate Initiative cap and invest program, a net zero stretch building code, and a moderate carbon price ($29/MT rising to $48 in 2030—roughly similar to one in a recent legislative proposal) in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. We use published modeling results to approximate these policies and estimate that they would reduce emissions by an additional 6% below 1990 levels (~41%). This leaves an emissions reductions shortfall of ~9% (or 8 million metric tons of CO2, roughly the equivalent of 1.7 million passenger vehicles) in 2030 (see Fig. 1).
To reach a 50% reduction by 2030, Massachusetts could implement a higher carbon price (e.g. $58/MT rising to $95 by 2030), which would be possible under S.2500. Some (but not all) models suggest that a higher carbon price alone would be sufficient to reach 50% of 1990 levels by 2030. Another option (not in S.2500) is to enact an ambitious clean electricity standard to reduce electricity emissions. To ensure we reach the 2030 goal, robust policies will be needed in all major sectors of the state's economy, with electricity sector decarbonization particularly important (Fig. 1, Stringent case).
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Metz, Lucy E.; Bell, Alice I.; Deady, Talia W.; and Barron, Alexander R., "What Does it Take to Reduce Massachusetts Emissions 50% by 2030? Challenges Meeting Climate Goals Under Current Legislation (S.2500)" (2020). Environmental Science and Policy: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.