One Monday morning this past fall, a group of young, committed environmental activists came into my office. They were part of the Leadership Campaign, and they’d spent the past night sleeping on the Boston Common as part of a weeks-long event to raise awareness about climate change. My staff and I were impressed with this group’s passion and activism, and I wanted to share some information with you about what they are trying to accomplish.
The Leadership Campaign is a collection of students, environmental organizations, and other interested individuals who are calling for state government to address the effects of global climate change, with their dedication demonstrated by nightly sleep-outs on over twenty college campuses throughout the state and at Boston Common in protest of the dirty electricity used to power their college homes, apartments and dorms. With the UN Climate Change Convention talks starting today in Copenhagan, last night marked the group’s final sleep-out.
Their focus? Reducing carbon dioxide emissions, highlighting NASA climatologist James Hansen’s assertion that the current political consensus to stabilize carbon dioxide levels at 450 parts per million is an inadequate goal, and that the current 390PPM level must be brought down to 350 to prevent global destabilization.
In particular, they are pushing for passage of An Act to Repower Massachusetts, which calls for a complete overhaul of the Commonwealth’s current protocol for electrical generation. I was more than happy to sign on and support this forward-thinking legislation.
The bill would create a new RePower Massachusetts Emergency Task Force, which would be charged with creating a comprehensive plan by June of 2010 to achieve a 100 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emission levels by January 1, 2020. The recommendations and regulations of the Task Force will reflect careful consideration of the impact of the transition to a clean energy economy on low-income communities and will allow for a complete phase-out of coal-powered electricity by January 1, 2015. An Advisory Council will periodically review and adjust the legislation in order to ensure that it meet the overarching goal of 100 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2020.
The global warming phenomenon has, in the past decade, become the greatest challenge to environmental security that we face here in Massachusetts, and indeed on a national and global level. While Massachusetts has proven itself a leader in efforts to diminish the effects of global warming through such legislation as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Green Communities Act, more needs to be done to address real threat that global warming poses to our state’s ecological, social, political and economic wellbeing.
There are many issues facing the Commonwealth, but it is clear there is no more important issue for the world than stopping global warming. It is so inspiring to see dedicated citizens like these young people putting so much effort into making a difference on this issue. Across the Middlesex & Worcester District, there are environmental activists, municipal officials, and everyday citizens who are doing their part, and I am equally committed to passing legislation to make a difference in stopping global warming as well.