It’s time to get going on climate change

Amy Longsworth

Massachusetts has long led the nation in planning and implementing climate action strategies. The Healey administration has further upped the game by appointing Melissa Hoffer, the nation’s first state climate chief, to a cabinet position and asking her to write a holistic and detailed assessment of what the Commonwealth needs to do immediately to meet our goals. Hoffer just released her 180-day report, which lays out a series of recommendations for a bold and comprehensive effort to help all stakeholders get our arms around the scope of the climate challenges and costs to implement game-changing resilience and decarbonization initiatives.

Here recommendations align with the Boston Green Ribbon Commission’s (GRC) strategic efforts at the city level to advance climate justice, strengthen climate resilience, accelerate carbon mitigation, and build a more informed and activated population of residents in Boston. An emphasis on systems thinking, importance of finance, criticality of maintaining healthy insurance markets, engaging all of government, and partnership with the private sector are all factors critical to our success recognized in the chief’s report, along with many others.

The commitment to determining the scope and cost of reaching resilience and mitigation goals by 2050 is important and most welcome to the businesses and institutions that are being asked to participate in the transformation of the City of Boston and the Commonwealth. Under Hoffer’s guidance, the report promises additional reporting by the end of 2024 as well as an annual Climate Report Card while maintaining a practical focus on the pressing mitigation and resilience priorities.

The recommendation to undertake a comprehensive financial analysis of the level of investment of all types needed to achieve the Commonwealth’s emissions reductions targets is absolutely essential. Without this analysis, it will not be possible to build the political will to make these necessary investments.

We applaud and fully support the proposal for a “Corporate Climate Challenge” to spur additional action from the private sector as well as the call for a Comprehensive Coastal Resilience Plan. We look forward to proposals to ensure that the state’s resilience strategy has a strong leadership effort across multiple coordinated agencies. The state also must become more explicit about funding for this critical resilience work.

The state’s coastal resilience plan dovetails with the GRC’s work with the city as part of the Climate Ready Boston initiative. The Coastal Resilience Solutions for Dorchester plan presented near-term and long-term strategies to adapt the Dorchester waterfront to coastal flooding from sea level rise and storms. Together, the coastal resilience solutions create a vision for the future of the Dorchester coastline – along with other coastal communities – that reduces coastal flood risk, improves connectivity and accessibility, and enhances recreation and natural ecosystems.

We also welcome the continued focus on Environmental Justice communities, many of which are in Dorchester and across Boston. The GRC has been working with the city to engage anchor institutions in community-focused climate work, through our Climate Justice Network, and we appreciate the reiteration of such work as a state priority.

In the timeline of the past two decades of effort to address climate change at the state level, Hoffer’s report marks the end of the beginning. It is truly the pivot point we need from planning to action. From the establishment of the Decarbonization Clearinghouse, to investments in MassCEC and the reform to the Mass Save program, the governor and her climate chief have put forth a practical set of action steps on the path to meet our 2030 and 2050 commitments. With our private sector members, the GRC is moving forward on that path in support of both the city and the Commonwealth.

Amy Longsworth is the executive director of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission.

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