Climate disaster costs exceed costs of going clean, activists say


BOSTON (SHNS) – Supporters did not put a cost estimate on transitioning Massachusetts to fully clean electricity, heating and transportation, but whatever the amount is, they say the costs of climate disaster would be far steeper.

Environmental advocates on Tuesday promoted a bill (H 3288) that would commit the Bay State to using clean sources for 100 percent of its electricity by 2035 and 100 percent of its heating and transportation by 2045, pitching it as a way to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 under the state’s climate law. Asked about the costs of financing the transition, speakers at the Environment Massachusetts event did not offer a specific estimate but said wind and solar power costs have dropped significantly in recent years.

“Yes, we will have to fund a clean energy transition, but the alternative is funding the potential destruction of our cities with increased flooding and increased extreme weather events,” said Hanna Nuttall, a clean energy associate with the group. “It’s something we’re going to have to pay for either way, and we do have these new technologies at our disposal thankfully to help prevent that.”

Bill supporters also cautioned that Massachusetts may begin to lag other states without action to commit to using more renewable, non-polluting sources of energy. In 2016, when Environment Massachusetts began advocating in favor of an earlier version of the bill, only one other state had committed to completely decarbonizing its electric sector.

Today, the list stands at nine, including New England neighbors Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine, according to Northeast Clean Energy Center policy associate Sean Burke.

“One hundred percent clean is actually a necessary step to meet the climate commitments that the state already has on the books, including net-zero (emissions) by 2050. We wouldn’t be going it alone as Massachusetts, and in fact, we’d be risking falling behind if we don’t go for it,” Burke said.

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