December 2021 Newsletter
In this Issue
  • Save the Date!
  • Our Climate Advocacy in 2021 - and the Work Ahead
  • Highlights of COP26 Climate Summit
  • Lessons from a Heat Pump Retrofit
  • Featured Videos
  • What We're Reading: Climate Newsletters

Our Climate Advocacy in 2021
And the Work Ahead
A Report from the ECA Mass Legislative Team

Next Gen Roadmap Law - A win with more to do
2021 has been a very busy and productive year for the Legislative Team. After two years of advocacy for the Roadmap Bill, coordinated with the Roadmap Coalition and a lot of political maneuvering, we finally saw Governor Baker sign the Next Generation Roadmap law in March 2021. The law includes an ambitious time table and policy initiatives to get us to a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and to net zero by 2050.
While this was a great win for ECA Mass and the state’s climate movement, the real work of implementing the law has just begun. Since the beginning of the year your Legislative Team and our allied organizations have been engaged in coordinated efforts to file and advocate for bills that will provide funding and mandate programs and policies that can keep us on track to meet the Next Gen Roadmap goals.
Advocating for 18 Bills -
Expanded team, campaigns, coalitions, support tools
For the first time in 2021 we are advocating for several pieces of legislation: six high priority bills and 12 lower priority bills. To take on this expanded agenda, we have grown the Legislative Team from three to seven core members and recruited five bill managers. To date, members of our expanded team have submitted written and/or oral testimony on 13 bills to the legislative committees holding hearings on these bills.
We have planned campaigns to:
  • Meet with the chairs of three key committees and
  • Get our members to press their legislators to cosponsor our top six bills through meetings (virtual and maybe in person in 2022), emails and phone calls
  • The Communications Team is helping to develop customized bill sheets to support our advocacy
To coordinate our efforts with allies we have joined five coalitions:
  • Green Future coalition, focused on carbon pricing
  • New England for Offshore Wind
  • Environmental League of MA group tracking implementation of the Next Gen Roadmap law and of the Clean Energy and Climate Plan, the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs proposed actions for meeting emission reduction goals
  • Gas Leaks Allies
  • The Roadmap Coalition, reborn under the leadership of Rep. Joan Meschino
To support our work we have introduced two software tools:
  • BillTrack50 to help keep tabs on our bills
  • Action Network to more effectively engage our members in legislative advocacy
This year, we also mentored two medical students in climate advocacy through a UMass Chan Medical School program.
To learn more about our efforts and opportunities to work with us or to volunteer to set up a meeting with your legislator contact Roger Luckmann or Tina Grosowsky ([email protected] or [email protected].
Highlights of COP26 Climate Summit
One Minute to Midnight?

By Michael Sales

At a recent meeting of the ECA Mass Leadership Team, I asserted that it was “two minutes to midnight.” The planetary boundaries work done by Johan Rockstroem makes it clear that humanity’s ignorance of science, its socio-economic systems, and its excessive patterns of consumption are exhausting our Earth. We are getting closer to a full breakdown daily.  
But the intention of the United Nations Conferences of Parties (COP) is to pull us back from the brink. At the many COP global climate summits since 1992, key decision makers from 197 nations have negotiated international agreements, aiming to stop our species’ headlong rush to extinction. They succeeded and they failed.
The most recent COP26 in Glasgow was no exception. There were important achievements, including:
  • Reversing Deforestation – 130 nations signed a protocol to reverse deforestation in 90% of the world’s forests by the end of the decade.
  • Global Methane Pledge – 100 countries joined US/EU efforts to cut emissions of methane from 2020 levels 30% by the year 2030.
  • Finance – 450 global companies pledged $130 trillion, representing 40% of global assets, to keep global temperatures from rising more 1.5 C warming.
  • Zero Emission Vehicles – more than 100 national governments, cities, states and major businesses agreed to end the sale of internal combustion engines by 2035 in leading markets. But a first-person report by Massachusetts State Senator, Mike Barrett, reminds us that Massachusetts was not a signatory to this agreement. (Watch a video of Senator Barrett’s presentation to our June chapter meeting here and find his full COP26 comments on a 12/3/21 post of our Facebook page.)

There were, however, important disappointments and disagreements, such as:
  • Loss and Damage – the US was one of a number of Northern, well-to-do nations that refused to agree to climate change reparations to address the condition of vulnerable Southern countries that are being severely affected a climate crisis they did not create.
  • Fossil Fuel Agreement Without a Lot of Teeth – The words “Fossil Fuel” have never appeared in any COP agreement. So, one might say that the one signed in Glasgow constitutes progress. Not surprisingly, this most consequential COP26 agreement was also the most contentious. The final language referred to “accelerating efforts toward the phase-down of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.” (You’ll have to dig deeper – so to speak – to find out what this obtuse language means.)
Many would argue that the real action at COP26 didn’t take place in the halls of power but in the streets, where scores of thousands of mostly young people agitated angrily against those at the conference as a bunch of greenwashing polluters. An experienced legislator and negotiator, Sen. Barrett, makes the case that it’s terribly difficult to arrive at agreements of any sort when each of the representatives of the 197 countries at COP26 held “a Joe Manchin [veto] card,” to which one can easily imagine the demonstrators and the millions of anguished people they represent responding with “So What?! Too Slow is No Go!”
Lessons from a Heat Pump Retrofit
By Rick Lent

Thousands of Massachusetts homes will need to be converted from fossil fuel heating to heat pumps. This is the experience of one homeowner.

Our house was built in the late 90’s and had an oil furnace and hot water (baseboard) heat. There was a central air conditioning system that used its own ductwork for cooling in the summer. By 2019, both the furnace and the air conditioning systems were getting old. The furnace had 5-10? years left but its efficiency was declining. The air conditioning equipment was on its last legs. Replacing the air conditioning system seemed imminent (and expensive).

We began to investigate switching to heat pumps for heating and cooling. We had multiple contractors estimate the design and cost for air-source heat pumps and installation. Lesson Number 1: Get multiple quotes, as the approaches will differ as will the cost. It takes a careful, creative contractor to design a good approach for an existing home.

Then we contacted our local electricity provider who enabled us to get an audit of our home’s insulation. This was a free state-funded service and taught us many things about where our home’s insulation was lacking. Lesson Number 2: We learned that it makes little sense to put heat pumps in a drafty home, and even a relatively modern home likely has inadequate insulation. We subsequently hired a contractor to add improved sealing and insulation to both our attic and (unfinished) basement.

Finally, we brought in the heat pump contractor who we felt had done the most careful and realistic assessment of how our home heating and cooling could work. We installed a central, ducted heat pump for the first floor using the ducts from the old air conditioning system. Upstairs we installed a ducted system in the master bedroom and ceiling mounted “mini-splits” in other bedrooms. We used Mitsubishi cold climate equipment throughout.

Our experience with heat pumps in our home has been great. They are far quieter than our old furnace, and they provide a gentle, constant heat throughout our house, if you let them. Lesson Number 3: You shouldn’t keep adjusting the thermostat up and down between night and day temperatures. A heat pump runs most efficiently when it can maintain a constant temperature. Last winter, we used our old furnace for a few days in a very cold period (15 degrees), but that was it. In summer, we used the heat pumps on their cooling mode to provide air conditioning and again were very pleased with how quiet and effective they were.

We are now beginning our second full season of heating our home with heat pumps. Our electric bills have gone up, but we have low rates from our municipal light company and solar on our roof. We haven’t ordered any heating oil in two years.
Video about All Electric, Net Zero Homes for All Incomes
New housing is also being developed to address the climate crisis. Such developments can have homes with solar on the roof, heat pumps and excellent insulation. They can be designed with access to nearby open space. And built for all budgets and family sizes. This video shows a tour I took with a group from Sustainable Stow
Videos of Recent ECA Meetings
Did you miss some of our meetings or want to see the presentations again? Here are links to three recent meetings:

October 25, ECA Mass Deep Dialogue
Natural Solutions:
A Path to Mitigate Both Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss
Amy Meltzer of our Research Team gives an introduction to the biodiversity crisis and discusses the crucial role of land-based ecosystems in both carbon sequestration and biodiversity support. Watch the presentation video here. And access Amy's stunningly beautiful presentation slides here.

November 19, Elders Action Network (our parent organization)
In Conversation with Paul Hawken about his new book, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation
November 30, ECA Mass Deep Dialogue
Net Zero and Carbon Dioxide Removal
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) determined we must keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Centigrade to avoid some of the worse impacts of climate change. To do this our carbon emissions must be "net zero" by 2050.
Arnie Epstein of our Research Team discusses what net zero means and why the target is net zero and not simply zero emissions. See a video of the presentation and discussion here; slides from the presentation here.

We record our meetings and post them a few days later at our website. You can find more meeting videos at
What We're Reading: Climate Newsletters
We're still reading good books, but like many of you, we're reading climate newsletters too. Here are a few of our favorites:

The Crucial Years,, by Bill McKibben, renowned climate activist and author, who also has founded a new advocacy organization, Third Act (for "experienced Americans" 60 and over).

by The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. A "monthly dose of good news about climate change."

Heated,, by climate journalist Emily Atkin, who says her newsletter is for "people who are pissed off about the climate crisis." Her hard-hitting original reporting and analysis "should arm you with the knowledge you need to effectively fight this crisis."

Volts,, by former Vox writer David Roberts. "A newsletter about the technology, politics, and policy of decarbonization."

Climate XChange, Climate XChange's mission is "to achieve a durable, just transition away from polluting fossil fuels in the United States by advancing climate policy at the state level." Check out their website too, for more about their work and webinars.

Do you have a book review suggestion? Send your ideas to Newsletter Editor Diane Rapaport.
This Newsletter is Published for Members and Friends of the
Elders Climate Action - Massachusetts Chapter
ECA Massachusetts is a chapter of the national Elders Climate Action. We are a movement of elders committed to making our voices heard... to change our nation's policies while there is still time to avoid catastrophic changes in the Earth's climate. Visit the ECA Massachusetts website, event calendar, and Facebook page to learn more about our chapter's activities and climate news. JOIN ECA MASSACHUSETTS AND STAY CONNECTED! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, and for more active participation, sign up to receive Action Alerts and meeting announcements. Fill out our subscription form.