The commonwealth of Massachusetts has a responsibility to its citizens and the world at large to reduce its reliance on carbon-based sources of energy. So far, this environmental mandate is being implemented in the form of renewable portfolio standards and renewable fuel standards. RPS are used to target households and industries in their acquisition of clean energy. Within the energy market, suppliers are required to increase their acquisition of renewable sources of energy as a part of their overall portfolio. Currently, suppliers must increase their clean energy supplies at a rate of one percent on an annual basis. In other words, energy suppliers must reduce their reliance on carbon-based energy platforms at a rate of one percent per year as a part of their compliance to RPS regulations. 

However, RPS mandates change at a pace too slow for a significant change or improvement to occur. As ocean levels rise and natural disasters increase in frequency, Massachusetts’ coastal inhabitants have had to face loss of life, property and opportunity. In essence, Massachusetts is not fulfilling its constitutionally guaranteed obligations to its citizens. Implementing the solution will only become harder as time passes. In fact, the Global Warming Solutions Act prescribes that Massachusetts’ carbon emissions be reduced to 80 percent of its 1990 base emission levels by 2050. Under the current mandate, this is not only impossible but would also be extremely counterproductive as it allows for higher emission levels, which would require an even more costly transition process to clean energy. This is a major problem affecting all of us now. If we want the story of our generation and our civilization to be an inspirational one, it is our responsibility to mitigate this impending existential tragedy plaguing our time.

Massachusetts’ commitment to solving the problem and contributing toward a realistic solution is significantly falling behind. Earth is the only home that humankind has ever known, and it is the only home we will ever know in the foreseeable distant future. Letting it fall to pollution and global warming would be a disaster of epic proportions. If there is any state that understands the principle of using collective action to solve a systemically collective problem, it is Massachusetts. To see a state that would otherwise consider itself a pioneering moral force falling behind —  to the extent that it is becoming a part of the problem — is sad. In the larger scheme of things, Massachusetts' contribution might appear to be insignificant, but, if history has shown us anything, it is that the power of humanistic leadership has an appeal like no other. One strong action can inspire a wave of imitators, and in the case of global warming, imitation of sound policies is needed. At the cost of appearing idealistic, I submit that the movement to legalize same-sex marriage is a clear-cut illustration of how the contribution of one state in one nation can impact the world’s outlook toward issues that affect society and its sense of common humanity. If Massachusetts can lead the charge for LGBTQ people, what is preventing it from leading the charge on environmental issues? Even a simple move forward into market-based climate initiatives could make a real difference. 

If Massachusetts opens its doors to market-based or semi-market-based solutions to climate change, it stands a great chance of becoming an instant a success story, inspiring other states to join in. The Northeast is one of the richest and most influential regions in the United States. Massachusetts’ political leadership has the intellectual capacity and practical ability to lead the way in finding a solution that can be replicated across jurisdictions and nations. 

The RPS regulatory platform is a set of tools that have shown significant signs of success. From an economic and political perspective, the RPS mandate in Massachusetts has been unanimously endorsed across the political spectrum with only minor reservations on implementation procedures. This non-partisan approach is essential if we want to use existing political frameworks and economic infrastructure in searching for a cohesive solution that does not undermine either our democratic federalism or our robust economic institutions. The deadlock that we see in other climate change legislation is not at all present in the discourse with respect to RPS. It is a simple process of artificially encouraging the demand for green energy within an energy market framework without altering other costs and incentives.

The Massachusetts legislature has a number of bills on its docket that propose RPS acceleration to at least a two-percent increase on a yearly basis. These legislative items must be given priority consideration given the high levels of daily carbon emissions and the high minimum time it would take businesses and households to adjust to the new regulations. The sooner we pass these policies, the easier it will be for the economy to adjust to the new norms. This consideration is further underscored if the eventual aim is to inspire other states to adopt and adapt this path-breaking policy measure in earnest. It is undeniably imperative for all stakeholders — citizens, businesses, energy suppliers and governmental authorities — to support these policies as a means of preserving their own way of life as well as securing the future of their children and other future citizens. 

History may remember Boston for its democratic fight against taxation without representation and its contribution to the American Revolution. Hopefully, it may also accredit Massachusetts to be the pioneering force behind the legalization of same-sex marriage. Therefore, it would be the greatest travesty if history records Massachusetts for its inaction against the greatest threat to humankind.