Legislators speak on emissions reduction goals in new law

  • Interfaith Council of Franklin County President Kate Stevens, at left, joins Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener to lead attendees in a song about climate change to close out an event at Energy Park in Greenfield on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • State Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, looks on as state Rep. Joan Meschino, D-Hull, speaks to attendees at Energy Park in Greenfield on Saturday about “An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy.” STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • State Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, speaks to attendees at Energy Park in Greenfield on Saturday about “An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy.” STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 9/19/2021 5:20:30 PM

GREENFIELD — State Rep. Joan Meschino wanted to provide Massachusetts with a roadmap for reducing harmful emissions in hopes of curbing climate change.

“What I learned was that we didn’t have a plan,” Meschino, D-Hull, told a crowd gathered at Energy Park on Saturday. “That’s why I filed the net-zero bill.”

Meschino was joined Saturday by state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, to discuss “An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy.” The event also included introductory speeches from Greenfield Mayor Roxann Wedegartner and the Interfaith Council of Franklin County’s Kate Stevens and Kate Mason.

“An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy,” which has since been signed into law, enables the state greater flexibility and efficiency in terms of ways it can reduce emissions. The end goal is to achieve net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.

Simultaneously, the law is aimed at creating economic opportunities. Meschino, on the general topic of climate change, said early in her speech that “the actual solution is economic.”

“We put in place what I refer to as a people-centric lens,” Meschino said, adding that the solution is inextricable from socioeconomic, social justice and environmental justice concerns.

“We look at roadblocks that exist that are once in a generation, that people don’t realize get in the way (of climate action),” Mark said.

The legislators focused largely on transportation as the central target for improvement going forward.

“I’ll tell you what’s next,” Meschino said. “We have to tackle transportation. ...We will not register any internal combustion engines after 2035.”

Questions that attendees posed later in the afternoon focused on this topic, as well as topics surrounding deforestation, solar power, school grant funding, resource inequity and job opportunities.

In regards to future success, Meschino and Mark each emphasized the importance of getting help from the state and federal governments. Mark said a major infrastructure bill from the federal government that would provide additional funding is incredibly important in Massachusetts reaching its emissions reduction goals. Meschino focused on a smaller scale, saying of Gov. Charlie Baker that energy reform advocates have to “push him” and “push him out” if he doesn’t respond adequately.

“We cannot have the administration just rest on its laurels,” Meschino said. “We actually have to make them do something.”

Narrowing the range of her lens even further, Meschino spoke directly to Franklin County locals.

“Don’t overlook the regional opportunities, the regional initiatives and the regional projects you have as well,” she said.

This aligned with the idea Wedegartner expressed to open Saturday’s discussion.

“We are, in Franklin County and Western Massachusetts, the lungs,” she said.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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