Our History

Massachusetts has long been regarded as a leader in climate and energy policy. Since 2008, there has been a deliberate focus on carbon emissions through the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) and the Green Communities Act. Since the GWSA was enacted, the Commonwealth has seen steep reductions in carbon emissions from the electric sector, which has lead to a decrease in overall emissions. Unfortunately, these policies have had smaller impacts on emissions from buildings and almost no effect on transportation. Today transportation accounts for 39% of emissions, and buildings another 28%. The GWSA requires that overall emissions be reduced 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Based on the Governor’s most recent study, we are not on target to meet these legal mandates. This not only leaves the state vulnerable to future litigation, it also challenges our role as a clear leader on climate policy.  In order to meet this requirement and and do our part to address the global climate crisis, Massachusetts must take aggressive steps to reduce emissions from these two sectors.

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An economy-wide carbon pollution price could move the state a long way toward meeting its mandates. It would require fossil fuel suppliers to pay pollution fees in proportion to the CO2 emissions of their products. This would give both suppliers and consumers a strong incentive to move to renewable energy and greater energy efficiency. The Massachusetts bills would devote most or all of the revenue to rebates for households and employers, with the House bill using a portion for investment in clean energy and transportation programs.

Such a carbon price is the most appealing option for Massachusetts for several key reasons. One, it can cut pollution greatly while protecting families, particularly low-income ones, and vulnerable businesses, due to the rebates and investment. Two, we keep in the state part of the $20 billion that consumers currently spend on out-of-state fuel imports from places like Texas, Pennsylvania, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria. Three, consumers spend most of their fuel savings inside Massachusetts, growing the economy by $600 million a year and creating 18,000 jobs in the process. Four, there is widespread agreement among economists and policymakers that carbon pricing is the most cost-effective method of cutting emissions.

Carbon pricing legislation was first introduced the Massachusetts legislature in 2013 by Senator Mike Barrett and then-State Representative Tom Conroy. Although ambitious, the Conroy-Barrett bill caught the attention of climate leaders and concerned advocacy groups. In the next session in 2015 a new revenue-neutral bill was introduced by Senator Barrett. It was crafted with wider stakeholder input and supported by a new coalition,  the Campaign for A Clean Energy Future, within which Climate XChange had (and continues to have) a leading role. This bill was also aided by a series of educational meetings with a delegation from British Columbia, which instituted revenue-neutral carbon fees in 2008. Together these events really put carbon pricing on the map in Massachusetts.

Building upon the solid foundation formed previously around Senator Barrett’s single bill, the 2017-2018 legislative session saw tremendous progress. In addition to Barrett in the Senate, State Representative Jen Benson introduced a bill in the House that used 20 percent of the revenues for clean energy investment. Collectively the bills received 79 cosponsors, about 40 percent of the legislature. Later in the session an omnibus climate bill, S.2302, An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future, was sponsored by Senator Pacheco and contained provisions to institute carbon pricing that Senators Barrett and Pacheco worked out together. This bill was amended and passed unanimously by the State Senate. But the House did not vote on the bill, and it was not passed into law.

As we enter the 2019-2020 legislative session, Climate XChange is working closely with coalition partners, legislative allies, business leaders, and stakeholders. The momentum we’ve built over the past six years has created a solid foundation for success, and we expect that our legislative leaders will introduce Massachusetts’ strongest carbon pricing legislation to date. To learn more about the coalition that has come together to support carbon pricing, Visit Here.

Past Carbon Pricing Bills of the 190th Session (2017-2018)

Senator Michael Barrett’s Bill (S.1821)

Representative Jennifer Benson’s Bill (H.1726)

Senate Clean Energy Omnibus (S.2564)

2019 – 2020 Legislative Session

This Session's Carbon Pricing Bills

H.2810 An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure and Reduce Carbon Emissions ǀ Sponsor: Representative Jennifer Benson ǀ Read the Bill ǀ Read the Factsheet

S.1924 An Act to Combat Climate Change ǀ Sponsor: Senator Michael Barrett ǀ Read the Bill ǀ Read the Factsheet

Learn About the Business Perspective on Carbon Pricing

The Weekly Policy Round-up

Stay up to date on what’s happening this session by subscribing to our Weekly Policy Round-up

Legislative Updates
Massachusetts Senate passes economy-wide carbon pricing, net zero emissions target

In a marathon late-night session, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation creating economy-wide carbon pricing, and requiring the state to reach net zero emissions by 2050. In doing so, the Senate doubled down on its commitment to the market-based policy...

Mass. Senate’s Climate Bills: Overview, Summary, & Context

Today (1/23) the Massachusetts State Senate released its much-anticipated comprehensive package to address climate change. Split into three bills, the package includes a price on carbon pollution, a state-wide net zero emissions mandate by 2050, and new requirements for solar...

Governor Baker’s Net Zero Pledge in Context

At his annual State of the Commonwealth address on Tuesday (1/21), Governor Baker pledged Massachusetts to a new goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making the Bay State the third in the country to make such a commitment,...

Historic show of support for carbon pollution pricing at the MA State House

Over 225 citizens, business leaders, and elected officials from across the state packed a Beacon Hill hearing room on Tuesday in Massachusetts to show their support for legislation to put a price on carbon pollution. The hearing was held by...

News and Insights
Feb. 21st Roundup: Baker targets hydrofluorocarbons

[ Not a subscriber? Sign up here ] BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS - “Baker Administration Planning Rule To Ban Hydrofluorocarbons” (Michael P. Norton, SHNS via WBUR) “A state regulation expected this spring would ban the use of greenhouse gas-producing hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in...

Feb. 12th Roundup: BU professor ends hunger strike

[ Not a subscriber? Sign up here ] **SPECIAL** COMMUNICATING CLIMATE This week Climate XChange's Maria Virginia Olano released ‘Communicating the Climate Crisis.’ A multimedia project that's been a year in the making, it combines her unique comms insight with practical tools on how to...

Feb. 4th Roundup: Poll finds majority back state climate action

[ Not a subscriber? Sign up here ] BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS - Massachusetts Senate passes economy-wide carbon pricing, net-zero emissions target: In a marathon late-night session, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation creating economy-wide carbon pricing, and requiring the state to reach...

Jan. 30th Roundup: Senators file 150+ amendments to climate change package

[ Not a subscriber? Sign up here ] BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS - “Carbon pricing is a cornerstone of Senate climate package” (Katie Lannan, SHNS via the MetroWest Daily News): “The Massachusetts Senate plans to take up a far-reaching package of climate bills whose major...

Recent Reports
How to Have Your Carbon Fee Cake and Eat It Too

Our analysis of Massachusetts Representative Jennifer Benson’s H.2810, An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure and Reduce Carbon Emissions, shows that while it imposes substantial fees on carbon pollution, creating incentives to reduce emissions, it will still financially protect low and...

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