Update: Baker Administration’s Net Zero by 2050 Letter of Determination


In early 2020 Governor Baker announced that he would commit Massachusetts to net zero emissions economy-wide by 2050 through a letter of determination. Although the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) and its statutory mandate remain at 80% emissions reductions from 1990 levels by 2050 until the legislature chooses to pass net zero legislation, Governor Baker’s net zero determination letter commits the state to net zero throughout the duration of his administration.

In the spring of 2020, the Baker administration released a draft letter of determination for their definition of net zero by 2050 and asked the public to provide input by April 10, 2020. Thanks to the valuable input of many A Better City members, we submitted comments in support of net zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. Within their definition of net zero emissions by 2050, we asked the administration to commit to no greater than 80% direct emissions reductions, allowing for the remaining indirect emissions to be compensated for by offsets, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), and/or Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). We also encouraged the administration to consider aligning a 2030 interim target with existing city-level policy of 50% emissions reduction by 2030, and to ensure that rigorous stakeholder input and engagement continue as they consider sector-specific targets, compliance mechanisms, and other aspects of decarbonization policy.

Last Wednesday on Earth Day, Secretary Theoharides and the Baker administration released their final net zero by 2050 letter of determination. In their definition of net zero, they are committing to 85% direct emissions reductions by 2050. While some critics have claimed that this is not an aggressive enough commitment for the Commonwealth, we want to stress that 85% of direct emissions reduction by 2050 is still going to be an extremely heavy lift for the business community, particularly the commercial sector. Although this net zero by 2050 letter of determination remains an economy-wide commitment, ABC will be following closely as the administration translates economy-wide net zero emissions into building and sector-specific policies.

Additionally, Secretary Theoharides will be required to announce an economy-wide interim target for 2030 as part of her commitment under the Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan, as well as the 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap, both to be released in December 2020. We will continue to push for alignment of city and state-level interim emissions reductions targets of 50% economy wide emissions reduction by 2050 and will advocate on behalf of building-specific policies in the Commonwealth. While we recognize that a statewide emissions reduction target of 50% by 2030 does not necessarily translate to 50% of an individual building’s emission reduction by 2030, we understand that these climate policy conversations will greatly impact our membership, and we want to ensure that Massachusetts can pursue effective climate policy alongside a thriving economy. We look forward to engaging in ongoing discussions with the Baker administration.

We also look forward to hearing from Senate climate leader Senator Barrett, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy on May 14, 2020. Along with Senate President Spilka they were lead authors of the landmark climate policy package released by the Senate that includes 1. An Act Setting Next Generation Climate Policy, 2. An Act to Accelerate the Transition of Cars, Trucks and Buses to Carbon-Free Power, 3. and An Act Relative to Energy Savings Efficiency. In addition to understanding the context and justification behind these pieces of legislation, especially An Act Setting Next Generation Climate Policy, we thought it would be a good opportunity to hear from the Senator about how the Senate’s climate legislation may interact with other pieces of legislation in the House like GreenWorks, Rep. Meschino’s Roadmap to 2050 bill, and others. Stay tuned for this upcoming ABC Climate Policy Conversation. For more information on ABC’s climate policy work, please contact Isabella Gambill or Yve Torrie.


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