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

HD.2370 An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure and Reduce Carbon Emissions ǀ Sponsor: Representative Jennifer Benson ǀ Read the Bill ǀ Read the Factsheet

SD.1817 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

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Legislative Updates
7 Beacon Hill Climate & Energy Bills to Watch

Legislators had two weeks to sign onto bills filed in the new session, a process known as cosponsorship. Over that period, a host of bills addressing climate change and promoting clean energy received a lot of attention, with multiple lobby...

New Legislative Session Brings Opportunity for Carbon Pricing in Massachusetts

The 2019-2020 legislative session kicked off in Massachusetts this month, bringing with it two new bills proposing a statewide fee on carbon emissions. After gaining a great deal of interest and support in the 2017-18 session in Massachusetts and nationwide,...

Everything You Need to Know About Midterm Results & Climate Action

We look at the big results of the midterm election night and what they mean for national clean energy and climate policy in the years to come. National Results Rundown of where we’re at post-election: Democrats secured a House majority, controlling...

Carbon Pricing Winning Issue in Mass. Legislative Races

The importance of state legislative races is often lost in the hype surrounding national midterm elections. Even when focused on, it can be hard to determine the policies that play a defining role in legislative elections at the state level....

News and Insights
April 9th Roundup: Has Governor Baker kept wind, hydro promises?

BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS - Is Mass. Keeping Its Offshore Wind, Hydro Procurement Promises?: Back in 2017, Massachusetts began two efforts to buy of both offshore wind and out-of-state clean energy. We have summarized and evaluated what has happened over the last...

April 2nd Roundup: the next phase of offshore wind begins

PROGRAMMING NOTES - The Policy Roundup turns one today! A year ago I sent out the first of forty-eight editions of this Roundup, and ever since I’ve had the pleasure of sharing climate news, updates, and analysis with you every week. I...

March 26th Roundup: Legislators, Businesses, and Enviros Back Carbon Price

Not a Subscriber? Sign up here. BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS - President Spilka, Speaker DeLeo, the Ball is in Your Court (by Michael Green, via Climate XChange): “In separate speeches to prominent business groups this past month, as reported by the Boston Globe, the leaders of...

President Spilka, Speaker DeLeo, the Ball is in Your Court

In separate speeches to prominent business groups this past month, as reported by the Boston Globe, the leaders of both chambers of the state legislature asked for private sector support in advancing bold policies to address a number of challenges...

Recent Reports
Regional Cap and Trade: Lessons from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Western Climate Initiative

TWO LARGE CAP-AND-TRADE SYSTEMS for carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) exist in the U.S. — the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that currently covers ten Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states; and the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), which now includes California and the...

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