Letter to the Editor

Meeting Zero Carbon Emissions

To the Editor:

As a resident of Beacon Hill for more than 40 years and an advocate with several local environmental organizations, I have been keeping a close eye on Boston’s commitment to meeting our goal of net zero carbon by year 2050.  One of the keystones of this challenging effort will be the adoption of strong Building Emissions Performance Standards.  Currently the Green Justice Coalition, a group of Boston area environmental justice organizations,  is petitioning the Mayor and City Council to ask that this standard be set high; that offsets are not an option; and that the City provide strict enforcement and ample allocation of resources so that climate goals are met.  

Boston’s buildings, particularly our largest buildings, account for over 70% of citywide greenhouse gas emissions.  This new ordinance would require owners of large buildings to report their energy use and meet emissions standards.  I take great pride in living in a City committed to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, but it has to be a team effort that applies to all.  I urge adoption of stronger standards that ensure that the biggest emitters do their part.  Please contact your city councilor and support the Green Justice Coalition.  

Sharon Malt

Thank You to City Council

To the Editor

 I opened the Boston Globe online today and the first story was about Boston’s warming climate and how the insufferable heat impacts are landing disproportionately on low-income communities. The climate situation is tragic, and the burden is hitting our most vulnerable populations first and hardest. The decisions cities make now around tackling climate change really matter. They matter because they can have a material impact on the amount of carbon that will be released in the years ahead and the human suffering that will cause and, importantly, they matter because they provide models that other cities can learn from and adopt. On June 16, our City Council, leading again on climate, unanimously supported a new ordinance that will have a huge impact on carbon emissions in the city of Boston and one that provides a path for other urban areas to follow.  The ordinance is called the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance Update, or the BERDO Update. The ordinance establishes emissions performance standards for Boston’s largest buildings, setting a path that requires these buildings to reach net zero emissions by 2050. 

Cleaning up building emissions really matters. In Boston, buildings account for 70% of all greenhouse gas emissions and these emissions are highly concentrated, with just 4% of buildings accounting for 60% of all building emissions. Getting these large polluters on a path to zero emissions is essential to combating the impacts of climate change. It is also critical for improving Boston’s air quality—air pollution has given Boston the 8th highest asthma rate in the country and transitioning buildings away from burning oil and gas will mean healthier air for us all to breathe.  The BERDO update sets target emissions goals every five years but allows some flexibility around a building’s carbon reduction path and offers support for building owners as they make decisions on how best to decarbonize. It also mandates third party verification of emissions data and sets a price on emitted carbon for buildings that cannot meet the targets. 

 Earlier this year, Governor Baker signed into law a climate bill requiring Massachusetts to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and to cut our emissions 50% by 2030. With the BERDO update, the Boston City Council is providing a path, and guardrails, to better our chances of getting there.  

Thank you to Kenzie Bok, Ed Flynn, Council President Matt

O’Malley, and the entire City Council for supporting the BERDO Update and continuing to provide leadership on climate. We look forward to the BERDO Update’s speedy passage and are here to support you.

 Suzie Tapson,

Mothers Out Front

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