Upham's Corner Online

Climate Change & Massachusetts Initiatives

Posted: January 28, 2011      Nancy J Conrad

Over population, deforestation, and industrialization have led to an increase in atmospheric gases such as carbon dioxide - what are now commonly referred to as "greenhouse gases." It is generally accepted throughout the world that these gases are the primary contributor to a rise in the Earth's temperature, also known as climate change.

IEven under the best managed scenarios, it is expected that the Earth's temperature will rise between one half and one degree with attendant dramatic changes in weather, temperature extremes, ocean levels and the location of arable land.

The first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, was held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992.  It resulted in a treaty known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Its objectives were to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
What is Renew Boston?
Dorchester Bay's Role
Moving to Sustainable
Renew Boston Website
Climate Action History
Commonwealth of MA
City of Boston

The better known product of this organization is the Kyoto Protocol (1997) which established legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Many countries signed on to the Kyoto Protocol; others did not.  The politics notwithstanding, efforts to document existing conditions, conduct research and promote awareness of Global Warming continue throughout the world to this day.

Climate change is but one aspect of a multifaceted global problem. Since the end of World War II much of the developed world has climbed onto a consumerism track which promotes a throw-away society, producing waste, depletion of resources and the rise of greenhouse gases.  View video "Story of Stuff."

The developed and developing nations of the world are using our limited planetary resources at an ever-increasing rate. Waste and toxic chemicals, oil spills, ocean dead zones and the loss of habitat are leading to world species dying off "like flies."

At the heart of the problem is society itself and the problem is huge. Despite the skeptics, divisive politics and limited resources, progress on Global Warming is being made. A growing segment of people is looking seriously at how we live, move about, produce and consume food and what constitutes a meaningful lifestyle.

10 years after the Kyoto Protocol, the word "green" has begun to emerge everywhere - green jobs, green products, green committees, green buildings, green communities and more. This is the start of a movement that will change our world forever.

In April 2007 Governor Deval Patrick established the Leading by Example - Clean Energy and Efficient Buildings program.  It is overseen by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (A&F). Through various initiatives, LBE works to reduce the overall environmental impacts of state government operations, particularly climate and energy impacts.

In July 2008 Governor Deval Patrick signed a landmark energy bill, known as the Green Communities Act.  It is designed to do away with long-standing obstacles to building renewable power projects in Massachusetts and making homes and businesses more energy efficient.

The Commonwealth's Energy and Environmental Affairs Office created the Green Communities Division and charged it with guiding all 351 Commonwealth cities and towns towards energy efficiency and renewable energy.  Mass Save

The Green Communities Grant Program encourages cities and towns to apply for funds after meeting the program's five clean energy benchmarks. If approved, the community is funded and designated a "Green Community." 
  • In early 2010 thirty-five (35) cities and towns were designated as Green Communities
  • In December 2010 an additional 18 cities and towns were added including the City of Boston.
Another result of the Green Communities Program is Mass Save, an online resource for energy efficiency programs and products.

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