Port Authority revisiting climate action plans

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BOSTON (SHNS) – After having to put the effort on hold during the height of the pandemic, the Massachusetts Port Authority is once again working to imagine what a “carbon-free Massport” would look like and to develop a comprehensive climate action plan for the agency.

A group of Massport staffers who were involved in previous environmental efforts — like Logan Airport’s environmental impacts tracking system, the environmental management system at Conley Terminal and the agency’s Coastal Flooding Resiliency Plan — are teaming up with business officials from Massport’s operating divisions to mull over environmental issues and policies across the aviation, maritime and real estate sectors, Massport CEO Lisa Wieland told the agency’s board last week.

“We asked them to think through some key questions,” she said.

“What does net-zero really mean? What’s the baseline? How do we think about what’s in our control versus what’s really in the control of our airline partners, the crews and shipping lines, as well as our real estate developers?

And how long would it take us to get there and then what time frame?” As the team that first assembled in the fall of 2019 began to sketch out “what a bold initiative might look like,” Wieland said, the effort was put on hold while Massport dealt with the devastation of the pandemic.

When the group reconvened late last year, she said, Massport realized “that our net-zero effort really needed to be part of a broader, comprehensive climate action plan that included not only the roadmap to net-zero but also an update to our resiliency and sustainability plans.”

“So really linking reductions and emissions eliminations with adaptation to climate change, as well as best practices on mitigation and recycling and reusing type programs,” she said, adding that the realization was spurred in part by the state’s recent climate law, the launch of the Transportation Climate Initiative and President Joe Biden’s greenhouse gas emissions goals.

Wieland said the working group will continue its effort over the coming months and that the Massport board will have an opportunity to offer suggestions and feedback before the plan is finalized.

“Putting together this plan is going to take a little bit of time if we’re going to do it right and we’re going to think about it across aviation, maritime and real estate,” she said.

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