State Senator Mike Barrett, Senate Chair of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy of the Massachusetts Legislature, will attend COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. The Conference is a once-a-year gathering of representatives from every part of the world and the pre-eminent forum for coordinating joint action against global warming.
“Here in the U.S., with all the hiccups happening in the Capital around climate strategy, a lot of responsibility is shifting back to state-level government,” Barrett says. “Several years back, in 2015, the summit in Paris was about the role of nations. This year, the summit in Glasgow is about all hands on deck — nations, for sure, but also states, provinces, cities, businesses, and citizen activists.”
State-level actors have been included in previous U.N. Climate Conferences, Barrett says — he took part himself in the 2017 meeting in Bonn — but such “subnational” efforts have been in and out of focus. This year, due in part to the scaling down of climate policy making in Washington, interest in state-level initiatives is high.
The Conference runs two weeks, from Sunday, Oct. 31, through Friday, Nov. 12. Barrett is attending the Conference’s full second week. He says he’s looking forward to joining the day of meetings set aside to discuss climate options for cities, states, provinces, and regions. Other Week Two sessions will address policies on (1) transportation; (2) the built environment; (3) science and innovation; (4) women’s rights and gender equality; and (5) adaptation.
Back in Massachusetts, Barrett is also the author of a bill to establish the “Massachusetts Fund for Vulnerable Countries Most Affected by Climate Change.” The idea is to create a new “checkoff” option on state income tax forms, one that would allow, but not require, taxpayers to donate money, over and above taxes owed, to a special account set up to aid those nations of the world that are especially vulnerable to severe drought, rising ocean levels, desertification, and the other most devastating effects of global warming.
A special Week Two session will be devoted to questions of assistance to these nations, and this is where Barrett hopes to discuss his proposal.