By Jenny Rushlow and David Ismay
In a sweeping unanimous opinion yesterday, the highest court in the Commonwealth confirmed that Massachusetts’s landmark 2008 climate protection law, the Global Warming Solutions Act, requires that the state take enforceable action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis in order to achieve the law’s 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reductions mandate.
This is a huge victory for the plaintiffs who demanded that the Commonwealth establish, as the Court recognized, “a comprehensive framework to address the effects of climate change in the Commonwealth by reducing emissions to levels that scientific evidence had suggested were needed to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change.” The GWSA is that framework, representing “the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction [plan] for a single state in the entire country.” And according to the Court, it sets “legally binding limits on those emissions in the Commonwealth.”
That is why CLF filed suit on behalf of a group of concerned Massachusetts teenagers and others when the state’s Department of Environmental Protection failed to promulgate regulations expressly required by the GWSA to set declining annual aggregate limits on the volume of greenhouse gases that could be emitted in the state.
Today the Court was crystal clear in handing those courageous teenagers, and the people of Massachusetts this resounding, unanimous victory: The GWSA is legally enforceable – not “merely aspirational” as the DEP repeatedly and wrongly insisted, and reducing GHG emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050: “attain[ing] actual, measurable, and permanent emissions reductions in the Commonwealth” is the unambiguous law of the land!
We will remain vigilant to ensure that the Commonwealth expeditiously drafts the regulations that the law requires. There are many decisions to make and some will be difficult, but the pathway forward is clear. Massachusetts is committed to – and must achieve – a clean energy future. We have the tools, the law is clear: let’s get to work!
Click here to tell Gov. Baker to enforce the Global Warming Solutions Act!