Massachusetts is a state already known for its leadership on the climate change front. Its progressive leaders, including Congressman Markey, are working on new federal energy legislation – the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. And of course, under the leadership of Governor Devel Patrick, the state is part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap & trade program for 10 northeast states, as well as its exemplary 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act. That game changing legislation set a 80% by 2050 reduction goal.
But is all that enough? No, not according to the many grassroots activists across the state that want even more for its “Green New Deal.” Their success amending the party platform sets the stage for the larger battle ahead – COP15 (see http://cop15.dk/).
They want to promote “those strategies which will quickly stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide at a maximum of 350 ppm and protect against further climate change.” But they want that “in accord with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.” That’s because the world will pull back from the climate precipice only with a strong international treaty, the right goal set and everyone in on it. That happens this December.
350 ppm is the idea of the nation’s number one climate scientist James Hansen (see http://350.org/). Having spent his career working on climate models, he was aware that in some respects the real world was outstripping previous models, including those used by the IPCC for its historic Fourth Assessment Report on Climate Change (see http://www.ipcc.ch/).
Arctic sea ice was reaching record lows; many of Greenland’s glaciers were retreating; the tropics were expanding. “What was clear was that climate models are our weakest tool, in that you can’t trust their sensitivity in any of these key areas,” he says. Those warning signs – and his studies of past climate change – led Hansen to conclude that only by pulling CO2 concentrations down below today’s value could humanity avert serious problems.
That’s the idea behind an absolute mandate to “stabilize atmospheric carbon dioxide at a maximum of 350 ppm.” Its a big idea with monumental consequences. Let’s see if our activists can make something of the fact that its now the mandate of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, and pry loose some new victories on the global warming solutions front.