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New Report Shows Declining Emissions Amidst Growing Economy

What happens when a state gets serious about climate change? A new report says the answer, at least in Massachusetts, is a shrinking carbon footprint and a growing economy.

In 2008, Massachusetts passed the Global Warming Solutions Act, which ranks as one of the most ambitious climate change policy frameworks in the country. The Act called for a 25% reduction in emissions below 1990 levels by 2020 and it helped spark, among many other things, significant new investments in energy efficiency and clean energy. At the end of last year, Massachusetts’ energy and environment office issued a progress report.

One of the findings that really grabbed my attention was featured in this chart:

Massachusetts Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Economic Growth 1990-2011

It shows that, from 1990 to 2010, Massachusetts emissions fell 11 percent, even as the economy grew by 60 percent. Good news for businesses and the environment alike. While we know that national and international actions are necessary to fully address climate change, Barr has focused on helping Boston and Massachusetts demonstrate the art of the possible on climate action. Much work remains. But we are encouraged by trend lines like this.

In addition to the moment-in-time snapshot offered by this report, a new performance management dashboard (which Barr helped to fund) will provide a dynamic picture of progress towards Massachusetts’ 2020 goals.

See the dashboard

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