This page provides an overview of the steps Massachusetts is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Massachusetts first completed a Climate Protection Plan in 2004 to address climate mitigation goals. In 2008, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs convened an Adaptation Advisory Committee under the Global Warming Solutions Act (Section 9) to develop strategies for adapting to predicted changes to the climate and impacts on Massachusetts. The Adaptation Advisory Committee members represented 12 sectors and focus areas: transportation and built infrastructure; commercial, industrial, and manufacturing activities; low-income consumers; energy generation and distribution; land conservation; water supply and quality; recreation; ecosystem dynamics; coastal zone and ocean; rivers and wetlands; and local government. In addition, the committee included experts in public health, insurance, forestry, agriculture, and public safety. The committee’s final report, Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report (“2011 Report”) was published in September 2011. The 2011 Report provides a comprehensive overview of climate change impacts in Massachusetts, specific vulnerabilities in multiple sectors, and explicit climate adaptation goals.

Aligning Adaptation and Hazard Mitigation Planning

On September 16, 2016, Governor Charles D. Baker signed Executive Order No. 569, “Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth.” In addition to several provisions aimed at achieving air emission standards under the Global Warming Solutions Act, the order directed state officials, led by the Executive Offices of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Public Safety and Security, to develop a statewide climate adaptation plan, based on the best available climate impact data, within two years and update it every five years. The plan is intended to provide a blueprint for protecting the Commonwealth’s built and natural environment. Under the plan, the listed state agencies must document observed and projected climate trends for the purpose of providing state agencies and municipalities with goals and strategies for addressing those impacts through adaptation and resiliency measures. The plan also requires state agencies and municipalities to establish a framework to assess vulnerabilities to climate change and extreme weather events and identify corresponding adaptation options, with technical assistance provided by the Commonwealth. The 2011 Report on climate adaptation will be combined with an update to the 2013 State Hazard Mitigation Plan by the Massachusetts Emergency Emergency Management Agency. The combined integrated State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan will include multiple risk management objectives. The plan is expected to be completed in September 2018.

Resilience Grants and Initiatives

In January 2014, Massachusetts’s Governor Deval Patrick announced a $50 million climate preparedness initiative. The initiative created a $40 million Community Clean Energy Resilience Initiative (formerly called the Municipal Resilience Grant Program) administered by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources with the goal of enabling cities and towns to use clean energy technologies to reduce the likelihood of disruptions in electrical services. In addition, the initiative called for an investment of $10 million in essential coastal infrastructure and dam repair, including an initial $1 million in municipal Coastal Resilience Grants through the Office of Coastal Zone Management to address sea-level rise in 78 eligible coastal municipalities. The program has received additional funding and awarded grants to eligible communities every year since 2014 for projects such as assessing shoreline stabilization alternatives, nourishing beaches, and evaluating different project designs to elevate infrastructure and roads vulnerable to flooding and sea-level rise.

On August 21, 2018, Governor Baker signed legislation authorizing over $2.4 billion in funding for state investments to, among other purposes, protect people, businesses, and built structures from the impacts of climate change. The law also codifies parts of Governor Baker’s Executive Order 569, including prioritizing funding for the Municipal Vulnerability Hazard Preparedness grant program and calling for an integrated State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan. Specifically, the law will allocate $501 million for the state and local governments to respond to and prepare for climate change impacts like natural disasters, sea-level rise, and inland flooding with:

  • $290 million for improvements and repairs to dams and seawalls and to implement diverse coastal resiliency strategies;
  • $75 million to provide planning and grants to communities through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program; and
  • $100 million to apply towards implementing the Commonwealth’s State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan.

Because Massachusetts is in the process of updating its adaptation plan pursuant to Executive Order 569, these pages highlight the progress the Commonwealth is making in implementing the adaptation actions and goals set forth in the 2011 Report.

 

Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help Massachusetts prepare for the impacts of climate change, are featured in the chart below.

The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress states are making in implementing adaptation plans, was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

 

(Research last updated: August 21, 2018).

 
State Agency Action Overview
Local Support Overview
 
 

State Law and Policy

Resource Name Resource Type Date
Massachusetts H 4835 - An Act Promoting Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental and Natural Resource Protection and Investment in Recreational Assets and Opportunity Law and Governance August 21, 2018
Massachusetts EO 569: Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth Law and Governance September 16, 2016
Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Regulations Law and Governance May 10, 2013
Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (S. 2540 MA) Law and Governance August 7, 2008

State Agency Plans

Resource Name Sector(s) Covered Date
Massachusetts Coastal Erosion Commission: Volume 1 - Report and Recommendations (Draft) Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal January 7, 2015
Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Planning Study for Water Quality Infrastructure in New Bedford, Fairhaven and Acushnet, Massachusetts Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Emergency preparedness, Land use and built environment, Water resources June 30, 2014
Massachusetts Coastal Resilience Grant Program Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Land use and built environment, Small communities 2014
Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Emergency preparedness, Fish and fisheries, Forestry, Information technology, Land use and built environment, Oceans, Public health, Tourism and recreation, Water resources 2011
Massachusetts StormSmart Coasts Program Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Emergency preparedness, Insurance, Land management and conservation, Land use and built environment, Water resources 2008
Preparing for the Storm: Recommendations for Management of Risk from Coastal Hazards in Massachusetts Coastal, Land use and built environment May 2007
Massachusetts Coastal Community Resilience Grant Program Biodiversity and ecosystems, Coastal, Emergency preparedness, Frontline Communities, Small communities

Local and Regional Plans

Resource Name Date
Resilient Boston: An Equitable and Connected City July 13, 2017
Climate Ready Boston Final Report (2016) December 8, 2016
ClimateCARE Resiliency Work Plan September 28, 2016
Boston Greenovate Plan January 15, 2015
Ready for Tomorrow: The City Of Salem Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan December 2014
Metro Boston Regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategy Report June 30, 2014
Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts, Climate Action and Clean Energy Plan February 2014
Climate Ready Boston: Municipal Vulnerability to Climate Change (2013) October 29, 2013
Marshfield, Massachusetts 2013 Master Plan: Climate Change Adaptation Chapter December 2012
Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts Action Plan: Planning for a Shifting Shoreline and Coastal Storms October 24, 2012
A Climate of Progress - City of Boston, Massachusetts Climate Action Plan Update 2011 2011

More Featured Resources

Resource Name Resource Category Date
resilient MA: Climate Change Clearinghouse for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Data and tools June 2018
Cambridge, Massachusetts Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment - Part 2 Assessments February 2017
Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool Data and tools November 23, 2015
MassDOT-FHWA Pilot Project Report: Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessments and Adaptation Options for the Central Artery Assessments June 2015
Massachusetts Port Authority Resiliency Program and Floodproofing Design Guide Law and Governance April 2015
Massachusetts Climate Preparedness Initiative Law and Governance January 14, 2014
Boston Redevelopment Authority Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency Guidelines, Checklist Law and Governance November 2013, updated October 2017
Preparing for the Rising Tide (Boston, Massachusetts) Assessments February 5, 2013
Climate Change and Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Reports Assessments April 2010
Massachusetts’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Data and tools
 

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