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Greater Boston Climate Action Plan: MAPC and Partners Release Priority Climate Action Plan

MAPC and partners release the Greater Boston Priority Climate Action Plan

Written by Sasha Shyduroff, principal planner, and Allie Shepard, clean energy and climate planner II

March 11, 2024 - In March, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and partners released the Greater Boston “Priority Climate Action Plan” (PCAP) as part of the region-wide Greater Boston Climate Action Plan (CAP). This planning process is funded by the U.S. EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) program, and the region encompasses 167 municipalities across Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.

Read the Great Boston Climate Action Plan here.  

This PCAP builds on existing climate action planning and implementation efforts from within the region, best practices from peer jurisdictions, and detailed input and feedback from key stakeholders. During the planning process, MAPC convened a Regional Planning Agency/Commission (RPA/RPC) Steering Committee, comprised of all RPA/RPCs in the region, a Municipal Advisory Group, and a Justice40 Advisory group, comprised of community-based organizations and individuals representing or working closely with federally designated Justice40 and Environmental Justice communities. The advisory groups met three times over the six-month planning period to provide feedback on the PCAP. Additionally, MAPC held three virtual listening sessions for additional stakeholders and members of the public to provide input.

The PCAP includes:

  • A regional Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory;
  • Eleven priority GHG reduction measures in transportation, buildings, electricity generation, and waste sectors;
  • Analysis on impacts and benefits in federally designated Low-Income and Disadvantaged Communities (LIDAC)

Completing the PCAP is just the first phase of the Greater Boston Climate Action Plan process. Between March 2024 and August 2025, MAPC will continue to work with partners to develop a regional Comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CCAP) that will establish emission reduction goals for 2030 and 2050. The CCAP will also include additional GHG reduction measures from the Industry, Agriculture, and Working Lands sectors, as well as additional measures in the Buildings, Transportation, Electricity Generation, and Waste sectors. Taken together, the PCAP and the CCAP will provide a strong strategic framework for driving deep and equity-forward GHG emissions reductions in the region.

Greenhouse Gas Inventory

During the planning process, MAPC worked with Weston & Sampson to develop a regional GHG inventory to establish an emissions baseline for the year 2017. This inventory utilized publicly available datasets at the state and municipal level and is the first GHG inventory for the Greater Boston region. The resulting inventory shows that stationary uses, primarily in buildings, make up most of emissions in the region at 40%, followed closely by transportation at 37%. Electricity generation and waste make up 18% and 5% of emissions, respectively.

Photo of a pie chart that shows the percentage of GHG emissions by sector within the Greater Boston metropolitan statistical area in 2017.
Figure 1. Percentage of GHG emissions by sector within the Greater Boston metropolitan statistical area in 2017.

Priority GHG Reduction Measures

The PCAP includes eleven priority measures that will reduce GHG emissions by 2030 across the four highest polluting sectors in the region. Each measure in the plan includes: a description of the context and action required; geographic scope; GHG emissions reductions calculations; benefits to federally-designated LIDAC communities; implementing agencies and their authority to implement; implementation timeline; metrics to track progress; availability of other funding to implement the measure; workforce development opportunities; examples of success and ongoing work in the region; and policy priorities to support the measure. These eleven measures are not inclusive of all Greater Boston’s many climate priorities – instead, they represent a sub-set of measures that are implementation-ready, will lead to substantial GHG emissions reductions by 2030, and will advance equity in the region. The priority measures are summarized in the table below.

Summary of Priority GHG Reduction Measures

Buildings
B1. Building Decarbonization Technical Assistance Expand and improve technical assistance programs, decarbonization planning resources, and outreach and education efforts.
B2. Building Decarbonization Financial Assistance Expand funding for comprehensive building decarbonization, particularly for affordable housing, renters/landlords, and small businesses; explore creative funding and financing solutions and opportunities to address the intersection of energy, health, and housing.
B3. Net-Zero Municipal Buildings Develop and implement a plan to decarbonize new and existing municipal buildings; establish technical assistance programs to support municipal decarbonization planning and financing.
B4. District Scale Renewable Thermal Energy Implement networked geothermal or water-based district heating and cooling projects through municipal ownership and public-private partnerships; support participation of low-moderate income customers.
Transportation
T1. Public Transit Access and Affordability Expand public transit service, increase frequency and reliability of transit services, implement fare free routes and passes, and make stops and stations more accessible.
T2. Multi-Modal Transportation Expand multi-modal transportation networks by building, improving, and expanding walking and cycling infrastructure that is safe, well-connected, and accessible.
T3. Electric Vehicle Affordability Increase the affordability and accessibility of Electric Vehicles (EVs) through EV car share programs, technical and financial assistance to purchase EVs, used EV markets, group purchasing, and education.
T4. Electric Vehicle Charging Deploy public EV chargers near multifamily housing and commercial centers, explore charging incentives, and educate potential EV users about charging.
Electricity Generation
E1. Renewable Energy Projects Deploy community shared solar, energy storage, microgrid, and other renewable energy projects; provide technical assistance and support for communities to access incentives and financing to develop renewable energy projects.
E3. Municipal Aggregation Adopt municipal aggregation programs, increase the percentage of Class I RECs in program offerings, and implement low-moderate income customer pricing tiers.
Waste
W1. Zero Waste Programs Establish regional composting sites; explore collective procurement of solid waste disposal and recycling services; expand re-use programs.

Environmental Justice and Low-Income and Disadvantaged Communities (LIDAC)

The project team used three screening tools: the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST); the Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJScreen); and the EPA Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Disadvantaged Communities designation to identify LIDAC communities. These tools assess indicators for categories of burden, including air quality, climate change, energy, environmental hazards, health, housing, legacy pollution, transportation, water and wastewater, and workforce development. Within the Boston metropolitan statistical area, 49 municipalities in Massachusetts and 10 municipalities in New Hampshire include at least one census tract designated as a LIDAC community, according to the EPA IRA Disadvantaged Community designation, shown in green in the map below.

Photo of a map of the Greater Boston MSA’s LIDACs.
Figure 2. Map of the Greater Boston MSA’s LIDACs.

How to get involved

  • To sign up for regular updates and the Greater Boston Regional Climate Action Plan Newsletter click here.
  • For more information, questions, or to get involved in the region’s Climate Action Plan please contact us at CPRG@mapc.org.

This planning effort is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) program.