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What is the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) of 2008?
Blog...What is the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) of 2008?

What is the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) of 2008?

Legislation & Standards
What is the Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as the GWSA of 2008, and how does it seek to reduce emissions and employ clean energy standards across the state of Massachusetts?

Climate change has been on the rise, and with insufficient action from the federal government – some states have taken matters regarding environmental reform into their own hands by implementing statewide legislation to help curb emissions and fight against climate change, with the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, or the GWSA 2008 – in Massachusetts serving as an example. 

How does the GWSA of 2008 help the state of Massachusetts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and better confront climate change?

What is the GWSA of 2008?

The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, of the GWSA of 2008, was passed by the state of Massachusetts after a statement was made conveying the urgency to transition to the use of clean energy, improve their economy with a more robust job market, and to support the state to achieve their climate goals. The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 has made use of scientific research to develop appropriate plans and guidelines to reduce their emissions, ultimately adhering to similar values depicted with the Science-Based Targets Initiative.

The GWSA of 2008 aided in the development of several environmental guidelines for the state to follow – such as ideas on how to reduce emissions that would prevent further catastrophic effects already present due to climate change: such as excessive heat waves. The GWSA of 2008 has also recruited the help of the Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020, a plan developed by the state of Massachusetts aimed at reducing the emissions and the use of fossil fuels, and also the Energy and Environmental Affairs, or the EEA, to create the most viable emission reduction plan for the state and ensure the effectiveness of the GWSA of 2008. 

boat in boston on water with skyline behind it

What inspired the development of the GWSA of 2008?

While the GWSA of 2008 is an innovative idea for climate legislation, the GWSA of 2008 can’t take all the credit – because the Global Warming Solutions Act was first brought about in California back in 2006. 

Initially developed by Fran Pavely and Fabian, who both served as previous assembly members and speakers for the California Assembly respectively – the Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as AB32, was signed in 2006 by the previous governor of California: Arnold Schwarznegger. The original goal of this first Global Warming Solutions Act was to encourage stronger emission reductions to help the state of California meet their environmental targets. This was done by seeking the assistance of CARB, or the California Air Resources board, to create new limits on greenhouse emissions for entities across the state. The original Global Warming Solutions Act proved successful, as it was updated in May 2014 to adjust to the current rate of success the GWSA had found.  

However, one of the greatest benefits of Global Warming Solutions Act in California was not only that it helped California develop a concrete plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight against climate change, but that it encouraged other states to pass their own other states have created their own Global Warming Solutions Acts to adhere with their own state’s emissions reduction targets – such as Massachusetts with the GWSA of 2008. 

What is the main goal of the GWSA of 2008?

One of the main reasons that the GWSA of 2008 was created in the first place was because of the dedication on behalf of Massachusetts to pave the way towards a clean energy economy – determined to reduce emissions both for the sake of the planet and to rectify the current economic circumstances. In other words, the GWSA of 2008 was created both to help fight against climate change, but also to rectify the current environmental circumstances. The GWSA of 2008 set out to accomplish this by creating policies that would both reduce emissions and encourage energy efficiency, reaping direct benefits in economic growth. The GWSA of 2008 also aims to implement new technologies that can develop new ways of cultivating renewable energy, encourage residents of Massachusetts to alter their commuting or travel habits to reduce their carbon footprint, and ultimately decrease the dependency on the use of fossil fuels.

The GWSA of 2008 has set numerical targets to ensure consistent progress of the GWSA 2008, with two of the main targets being to achieve a 10 to 25 percent reduction in statewide emissions from the greenhouse gas emission levels found in Massachusetts in 1990 GHG before 2020 – and to lower emissions by 80 percent from the emission levels found in 1990 before 2050. 

Overall, the GWSA of 2008 represents the commitment on behalf of Massachusetts to shift the daily activities of their residents and state-wide businesses towards a more sustainable model in order to combat the current effects of climate change, as well as build towards a more eco-friendly future to curb further environmental damage or excessive emissions.

lighthouse in massachusetts

How is the GWSA of 2008 different from the original GWSA?

The first way in which the GWSA of 2008 differs from the original Global Warming Solutions Act implemented by the state of California is their ultimate end goals. This is because the state of Massachusetts developed their GWSA of 2008 as a response to the current state of climate change and need to lessen their dependence on fossil fuels for the sake of the economy in addition to protecting the environment. California, on the other hand, developed their Global Warming Solutions Act to safeguard the state of California from the devastating impacts that climate change had and continues to elicit upon the state – such as the excessive wildfires, droughts, and megastorms that have occurred in California as a result of climate change over the years. Therefore, one of the main differences between the GWSA of 2008 established by Massachusetts and the original GWSA implemented by California is what spiked their desires to pass this type of environmental legislation in the first place. 

However, the two Global Warming Solutions Acts share one thing in common – they both were developed in order to pave the way for a better environmental future for their residents. California also expressed a desire to implement their GWSA to preserve the natural resources and protect the current air quality from deteriorating further due to increased emissions. In addition to this, California also created their Global Warming Solutions Act in order to protect businesses in industries that would be greatly affected by climate change – such as companies in agriculture and forestry. This is another area in which the GWSA of 2008 and the original Global Warming Solutions Act relate – as both versions of the GWSA are determined to rectify the current environmental circumstances in order to protect both present and future economic endeavors.

view of snowy mountains and lake late fall

Has the GWSA of 2008 been successful?

Despite the claims made by Massachusetts regarding the urgency of mitigating emissions and transitioning to the use of renewable energy sources for the sake of both the environment and the economy – the GWSA of 2008 has experienced setbacks, most notably in 2016 when the state’s highest level of court ruled that Massachusetts didn’t meet the intended goals of the GWSA 2008.

This ruling occurred due to the fact that the GWSA of 2008 wasn’t on track to reduce its emissions by 25 percent before 2020, as emission reduction levels were not set rigorously enough in order to achieve this goal. The current rate of the GWSA success in reducing emissions was revealed through the findings of an environmental group called the Environmental League of Massachusetts' Global Warming Solutions Project. Following this ruling, the GWSA of 2008 was given an incentive to improve upon its current actions following this ruling, and made a statement that they would review their emission reduction goals for the future. 

However, this ruling doesn’t negate other progress that the GWSA of 2008 had made according to its ten year progress report. After ten years of having established the GWSA of 2008, the act has been successful in reducing over 21% of greenhouse gas emissions from the baseline of emissions present in 1990, had achieved this goal in the midst of a 13% growth in population and 24% increase of accumulated statewide vehicle mileage, and had drastically improved the state’s Gross State Domestic Product.

lighthouse in Massachusetts

The GWSA of 2008 also shared in this ten year update their intent over the course of the next five years and which measures to take to continue reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For the transportation sector, this included the desire to promote the use of electric vehicles for daily drivers and provide incentives for companies who choose low-carbon methods of transportation for their deliveries. For renewable energy, the GWSA of 2008 clarified their willingness to support various projects to aid in the development of new renewable energy sources and technologies – such as by improving grid flexibility. 

The ten year progress report for the GWSA also illustrated its intent to continue establishing new policies and programs to promote the importance of energy conservation – especially as the world heads towards periods of extensive energy shortages.  The GWSA also demonstrated its desire to rectify the current air quality over the next five years and limit the emissions created from HFCs, or ozone depleting substances. Unsurprisingly, the ten year progress report for the GWSA expressed the importance of relaying data and information to government offices, school campuses, and other buildings to keep those in Massachusetts informed about the current regulations necessary to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Ultimately, the GWSA of 2008 has experienced both success and setbacks – but is ready to rectify those previous mistakes for the future and seek new opportunities to mitigate emissions.

How else has the state of Massachusetts taken measures to reduce emissions?

The GWSA of 2008 isn’t the only effort taken by Massachusetts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the current environmental circumstances. For instance, the Clean Energy and Climate Plan 2020 helps to decrease Massachusetts's dependence on fossil fuels, sustain the current prices of energy to protect consumers from skyrocketing electricity prices, and facilitate economic growth throughout the state through the use of clean energy. Another environmental effort on behalf of Massachusetts is the Clean Peak Energy Standard, which was created to incentivize clean energy technologies to aid during peak seasons of electricity usage. 

Massachusetts may be smaller and less likely to be put on the spotlight when it comes to climate change legislation in comparison to states like California and New York, but if the state can prove the rest of the country wrong with foreshadowed success for the GWSA of 2008 – the state could become one of the country’s new role models in implementing legislation to reduce emissions.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about the Global Warming Solutions Act, or the GWSA, has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

The Global Warming Solutions Act, otherwise known as GWSA, is just one of the many environmental regulations your company might have to comply with. Check out our legislation tracker here to see which rules your company has to adhere to.

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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