Katie Kinne

Senators leaving for Europe on climate change fact-finding trip

Katie Kinne
Senators leaving for Europe on climate change fact-finding trip

BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – Lawmakers, state and city officials, and non-profit leaders will travel to northern and western Europe next week as part of multi-nation swing to learn how cities in that part of the world have responded to climate change and approached the challenge of reducing their carbon footprints.

The trip, being organized the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, will include a boat trip out of Copenhagen Harbor to visit a 20-turbine wind farm built by Dong Energy, the Danish offshore wind developer hoping get a foothold in the United States with a wind farm in the federal waters off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

The delegation traveling to the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden from June 12 through June 18 includes Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and Sen. Marc Pacheco, the chair of the Senate’s Global Warming and Climate Change. Officials will visit Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmo, Sweden.

Rosenberg intends to leave Massachusetts Saturday and return on Friday, according to his staff, missing a planned formal session when the Senate anticipates taking up a veterans’ benefits bill.

The Baker administration plans to send Energy and Environmental Affairs Undersecretary Ned Bartlett and Assistant Secretary of Environment Dan Sieger, while Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will be represented by his Chief of Environment, Energy and Open space Austin Blackmon, Chief Resilience Officer Atyia Martin and Environment Commissioner Carl Spector.

Boston City Council President Michelle Wu, City Councilor Sal LaMattina and Boston Redevelopment Authority Planning Director Sara Myerson are also scheduled to make the trip.

“The intent of this trip is to bring together business, institutional, and civic leaders in Boston and the Commonwealth to learn about cutting-edge European practices for achieving carbon neutrality, and long-term climate preparedness,” said John Cleveland, executive director of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission. “Our goal is to apply what we learn on this trip to the Boston and Massachusetts context as we make climate action part of our regular governance and business practices.”

The international fact-finding mission falls coincides with Baker administration plans to send officials to Israel to explore advancements in chronic health monitoring and cyber-security. It also comes as Boston is finalizing its climate readiness policy recommendations, and the Legislature is debating a proposal to procure up to 2,400 megawatts of hydroelectric and offshore wind power.

Walsh returned this week from a summit in China on climate change. Meanwhile, Senate-led efforts to adopt a state climate change preparedness plan have faltered as House leaders have declined so far to consider the legislation.

While in Copenhagen, Dong Energy officials will take trip participants to Middelgrunden, a 40 megawatt wind farm located just over two miles east of Copenhagen Harbor that is used to power more than 40,000 households in the city.

Dong Energy previously hosted a group of lawmakers, including a handful of House leaders, in Denmark last September where they toured the company’s wind farms.

Other topics the delegation will explore include how to build political support for and engage the private sector in climate preparedness, water management strategies to deal with sea-level rise and storm surges, and energy efficiency, land use and low-carbon energy production.

Rotterdam and Copenhagen have both committed to achieving carbon neutrality faster than Boston’s and Massachusetts’ mandates for 80 percent emissions reductions by 2050, according to trip organizers.

The trip is being financed through a grant from the Barr Foundation, a Boston non-profit focused on advancing the arts, climate change solutions and educational opportunity.

The delegation traveling to Europe also includes Barr Foundation President Jim Canales; UMass Boston McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies Dean David Cash; Cleveland; Meister Consultants consultant Julie Curti; A Better City President Rick Dimino; Arthur J. Gallagher & Company Northeast chair Philip Edmundson; Veolia Senior Vice President Bill Fahey; Pilot House Associates Chairman Amos Hostetter; Umass Boston professor Paul Kirshen; Boston Green Ribbon Commission Director Amy Longsworth; Barr Foundation Senior Climate Program Officers Mariella Puerto and Mary Skelton Roberts; Meister Consultants Group CEO Wilson Rickerson and Barr Foundation Senior Advisor Bud Ris.