Keep climate in mind entering voting booth

Stakes are high as state strives to meet its emission goals

FOR THE MILLIONS of Massachusetts voters who worry about the consequences of climate change and our role and responsibility in the Commonwealth to fight it, the 2022 primary and general elections will be our most important statewide elections in a generation. With open seats for all of our statewide constitutional offices, voters will have a rare opportunity to enter the voting booth and elect a new vanguard of climate leadership that can position us as a model for the nation, and put us on track to meet our climate goals.

Informed by our work everyday to advance the clean energy transition and hold the line against our worsening climate crisis, we believe that Maura Healey for Governor, Andrea Campbell for Attorney General, and Chris Dempsey for State Auditor are three of the leaders who can meet the moment. We are also motivated by a slate of committed, capable climate leaders running for the state Legislature.

The stakes could not be higher. The summer of 2022 has been a summer of extremes, with climate change increasingly being experienced by our communities as a harsh and deadly reality rather than an abstract scientific concept. Warming temperatures from climate change are supercharging droughts in Massachusetts and across the country. Scientists worldwide repeatedly sound the alarm that our window for climate action is closing, and we are rapidly running out of time to halt the most catastrophic impacts.

Meanwhile, public health leaders continue to release studies revealing how our reliance on oil and gas is deeply eroding the health of our communities, and underscoring the urgency of embracing clean energy that will provide sustainable, reliable, and affordable power..

Massachusetts is at a key inflection point to make the Commonwealth’s ambitious climate goals a reality. The extremely difficult work of matching our ambition with bold action and political courage will fall squarely on the shoulders of those we elect this September and November.

The good news is that these newly elected officials will enter their respective offices with the wind at their backs following significant legislative progress at the state and national level. In recent days, the state Legislature passed and Gov, Charlie  Baker signed into law a second piece of ambitious climate legislation in as many years, creating a host of new tools to help move us forward. Our newly elected officials will also be buoyed by major new funding and investments from the biggest climate package in US history that President Biden signed into law in August. But with these new opportunities comes the tall task of making sure that we actually implement and utilize the new tools, and that the millions in new funds headed our way for priorities like clean energy, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles are spent effectively and with maximum impact.

The next class of elected leaders will also enter office with a mandate from voters to lead on climate policy. A recent poll found that voters overwhelmingly believe climate change is a serious problem, strongly support efforts by state leaders to move aggressively towards a clean energy future, and believe that our climate goals are not just necessary, but realistic. Our next statewide leaders will need to use that mandate to bridge the gap between our lofty climate goals, and the reality that we are still far behind reaching them.

In Massachusetts, we are fortunate that there are many good candidates running up and down the Democratic primary ballot. But this moment calls for something better than “good” – we need to elect leaders that will be transformational. As Attorney General, Maura Healey stood in the way of efforts by Big Oil and the Trump administration to erode climate protections and perpetuate our reliance on fossil fuels. She has the necessary experience to catalyze our clean energy transition in the governor’s office. Andrea Campbell has centered environmental justice as a core tenet of her climate plans, pledging to be an ally to communities that have borne the worst public health and environmental burdens from decades of dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure in their neighborhoods. And Chris Dempsey will be a pioneering state auditor, committing in his climate plan to be the first in the country to integrate carbon accounting into state audits and putting Massachusetts in a unique position to establish a national model that other states could follow.

This is precisely the kind of leadership we need at this key inflection point in the Commonwealth’s efforts to decarbonize our economy and fight climate change. We urge Massachusetts voters to vote for a livable planet and clean energy future on September 6th, and give these leaders a mandate to take action and lead the way on climate policy when they take office.

Elizabeth Turnbull Henry is the president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts and the treasurer of the ELM Action Fund IE PAC.