Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Katie Theoharides discusses the state’s climate change and emissions initiatives, including the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, during the July 24 meeting of the Massachusetts Mayors’ Association at the new middle school in Beverly.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation were the focus of the July 24 meeting of the Massachusetts Mayors’ Association, which was held at the new “green” Middle School in Beverly.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Katie Theoharides discussed the state’s efforts to address emissions as well as resiliency. She said her office has been gathering valuable input from local officials during roundtable discussions being held around the state on the topic.

Theoharides highlighted the state’s “ambitious target” to reduce greenhouse gases by 10 to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. She added, however, “The studies we’re seeing on climate change suggest that we need to be even more aggressive.”

She said the administration is moving aggressively on renewable energy procurement and is working with other states through the U.S. Climate Alliance and regional efforts. Massachusetts, she said, has an opportunity to lead on climate change by modeling approaches that could be applied elsewhere.

“In addition to our climate goals,” she said, “there is also an opportunity to build an energy industry of the future.”

Theoharides said the administration’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, now in its third year, has 250 participating communities.

“The rapid uptake for us demonstrates the need that’s out there,” she said.

The MVP program now offers action grants of up to $2 million per project and is hiring six regional coordinators to help communities with grant applications and technical assistance. The program awarded $12 million in grants last year, she said.

“The projects we are getting often have multiple goals,” she said. “They often have a resilience piece and an economic development piece.”

Theoharides promoted the administration’s $1 billion climate change adaptation and mitigation bill. She said the realities of climate change – record heat, rising seas and more frequent and intense severe weather events – affect communities across the state, not just along the coast.

Also at the meeting, Ken Wertz, executive director of the Massachusetts Facilities Administrators’ Association, and Carolyn Sarno Goldthwaite, director of building and community solutions at Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, discussed making facilities resilient.

Wertz said his group’s website lists many resources available to help municipalities. He also noted the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance’s “Statewide Resilience Master Plan.”

“You’re not alone in this work,” he said.

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