In case you missed it: A recent poll shows that Massachusetts voters are increasingly alarmed about climate change:
“The pace of the change in Massachusetts was quite surprising to me,” Koczela says. “I was actually quite taken aback at it.”
Back in 2011, 77 percent of the registered voters Koczela surveyed said they believed the world was getting warmer. In 2015, it was 78 percent. Now it’s 88 percent — and Koczela says the public is coalescing around a cause.
… But on a personal level it seems climate, like politics, is local. Koczela found 74 percent of voters interviewed for the poll say they’d pay $10 more a month on their energy bill if it would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
I’m imagining the big jump happened at least partly because of Trump pulling us out of the Paris accord. That was a wake-up call: Having enjoyed a generation of environmental protection, we’ve tended to take it for granted. Now we know: No one’s going to do this for us.
On June 20 I attended a very heartening hearing at the State House addressing the two carbon fee bills before the legislature. Sen. Barrett’s S.1821 is revenue-neutral: A steadily increasing fee on carbon fuels, with the proceeds being returned to the public in the form of checks from the DOR. Rep. Jen Benson’s H1726 would start at a higher fee, and use 20% of the proceeds for efficiency programs, returning 80% to the public in dividends. Young state rep Solomon Goldstein-Rose suggested that the fee would stimulate innovation in efficiency and clean energy — and cannily suggested the bill be implemented at the beginning of an electoral cycle, so that residents can receive three quarterly dividend checks before the next election.
The room was packed; the atmosphere supportive, even festive. It was a good showing.
Where’s the Governor? Does he support it? Who knows? This is the difference between doing the least possible — and actually taking leadership.
I appreciate that Dept. of Transportation chief Stephanie Pollock understands that we are behind the 8-ball on climate. She realizes that meaningfully decarbonizing the transportation sector — moving to walking, biking, transit at scale — requires a really significant cultural shift. (This is readily apparent to bike and transit commuters throughout the Commonwealth.) She even says we need to spend more money — a lot more — on capital investment for the T — a jump from $600-$700M to $1-1.2B.
This is good talk. She gets it. But unless the Governor is willing to use his political capital to fund physical capital, we’ll continue to underachieve. We’ll continue to be a place where good, transformative, and necessary ideas get a nice hearing, a pat on the head — and die.
So I keep thinking … would a Democrat in office do better? Be bolder? More effective? Simply listen to the polls and do the popular thing? It sure looks like MA is ready to make a big leap. We just need a political culture that will follow along.