Mass. Climate Math: Getting to Paris Reductions Goal Won’t Get Us Further

Press Release

Sounding a note of caution on today’s debate in the Mass. House of Representatives, the Senate chair of the joint committee that deals with energy matters cited “an inconvenient truth about Massachusetts climate change math: our share of the U.S. emissions goal set in Paris for 2025 is almost identical to a state-specific emissions goal we’ve already set for ourselves for 2020.  By 2025, Massachusetts will need to have progressed well beyond this point, or we will have little chance of meeting our ultimate emissions goal set for 2050.”

“Merely running in place on emissions reductions between the years 2020 and 2025 will throw us off pace and forfeit Massachusetts’ hopes to lead on this crucial issue,” said State Sen. Michael Barrett (D-Lexington).

The closeness between 2020 and 2025 goals for Massachusetts is the consequence of a similarity in emissions levels in the state for the two years 1990 (adopted as the key reference in Massachusetts’ 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act) and 2005 (adopted as a key reference year by Paris negotiators).  Basically, between 1990 and 2005, Massachusetts CO2 emissions remained more or less even, increasing by 1.6%, which means 1990 and 2005 comprise almost equivalent base years. 

Base YearMassachusetts’ Emissions (MTCO2e)
1990    94.5 million
2005    96 million[1]


A second coincidence compounds the problem: the Massachusetts goal set in its 2008 statute (25% reduction below a 1990 base year) closely tracks the U.S. goal agreed to by the Obama Administration pursuant to Paris (26%-28% reduction below a 2005 base year).

“The bottom line,” says Barrett, “is that Massachusetts’ achieving its simple proportional share of the U.S. goal set for 2025 will entail its making almost no progress beyond what it will achieve, or come close to achieving, by 2020.”

MA goal by percentage …… translates into emissions (MMTCO2e)
MA GWSA: 25% of 1990 by 2020   70.9 million
Paris:          26%-28% of 2005 by 2025   69.1-71 million

[1] Source: Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Secretary Matthew Beaton, Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020: 2015 Update, December 31, 2015; citing to Massachusetts GHG Emissions Inventory and Statewide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Level: 1990 Baseline and 2020 Business as Usual Projection Update, November 2015.