2022 recap, and support BCAN going into 2023!

Please join us in supporting Boston Climate Action Network in 2023 as we ramp up our campaigns for more sustainable schools and homes.

While 2022 was another challenging year for many of us, it also brought reasons to hope for a better climate future. This was the year Congress passed historic climate change legislation and Mayor Michelle Wu began laying the foundation for a Green New Deal for Boston. Now is the time, and Boston is the place, to win ambitious and pragmatic policies that set precedents that can be replicated throughout our state, region, and worldwide. 

We are a small and dedicated organization and we can win strong policies only with your help! Here are five reasons to get involved or DONATE NOW:

  1. We’re fighting for climate justice in Boston. In two new campaigns, we’re:
  1. We’re growing the movement and developing new climate leaders! This year, BCAN tripled our intern capacity and welcomed new board members, introducing new growth opportunities in campaign leadership, strategy, social media, and outreach. Looking to the future, we’re hoping to eventually build our staff capacity as well, but need all hands on deck to make that happen.
  1. Our network is expanding! For the first time, climate, housing, and schools activists are in the same rooms, breaking down thought barriers and opening up opportunities for systemic change. 
  1. We’re in it for the long haul. For over 20 years we’ve been building the climate justice movement in Boston, training activists, educating the public, and forming coalitions to achieve our goals. Our efforts have helped Boston become a nationwide climate leader with BERDO 2.0 and Community Choice Electricity providing blueprints for the country.
  1. We need you! We’re almost completely volunteer-based, and we rely heavily on donations to fund our campaigns. Anything that you can give us, whether it’s time or money, will make a big difference – every dollar and every hour counts.

Our climate is changing much faster than predicted. A dollar toward activism now can save hundreds of dollars of climate adaptation measures in the decades to come. We urge you to become a sustaining monthly donor to BCAN this year, or make the most generous annual donation your budget permits. Can we count on you?

2022 in pictures…

See all the highlights from 2022 below!

Global Climate Strike Boston 2022

Written by Stefan Geller

Over 100 climate activists gathered in front of the State House on Friday to take part in the “People, Not Profit” climate strike with Fridays For Future Massachusetts, demanding Gov. Charlie Baker and the Boston City Council take urgent action to combat the intersecting crises of racism, economic and energy injustice, housing and climate changes. 

The strike – cosponsored by BCAN, Boston University’s Environmental Student Organization (BU ESO), Extinction Rebellion Boston, Fairmount Indigo CDC Collaborative, H.E.R.O. Nurturing Center and 350 Massachusetts – joined countless others across the globe in support of Fridays For Future, the youth-led climate action group started by Greta Thunberg. 

“Friday’s Climate Strike rally was one of the most moving I have been a part of. The multi-generational participation—with lots of young people, from high school through college and beyond—was simply thrilling,” said BCAN volunteer Terry Mason. “We inspire one another and we need one another, it was clear. Racial diversity among participants was also great to see. The speakers were, to a person, concrete and passionate and even spiritual. I actually welled up with tears at one point. I can’t say enough about how moving that afternoon was to me. It felt like a true community of souls.”

Atop their list of demands, activists called on the Boston City Council to include in its budget a line item to acquire green space infrastructure and reduce urban heat island effect in the city.

Activists also called on Baker and his administration to mitigate further climate change by pressuring ISO-New England, which manages New England’s power grid, to stop obstructing the transition to clean energy use.

“As a young person, being constantly told that our future is doomed can feel incredibly hopeless. However, I am honored to be fighting this fight alongside so many talented activists,” said Maya Nelson of the Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action Network. “The only option is to tackle climate change with everything we have, on a personal and systemic level, while making sure we listen to all impacted groups.” 

The day after the climate strike, another 100+ climate activists held a rally along American Legion Highway to save Crane Ledge Woods by purchasing the 24-acre urban woodland and tree canopy bordered by Hyde Park, Mattapan and Roslindale. 

“We are all connected. Anything that happens in one part of the world, or in our city impacts all of us,” said Jose Masso of the Crane Ledge Woods Coalition (CLWC). “Our decisions and actions regarding the climate will impact our children’s children and future generations. The time to act is now!”
​​The day after the Climate Strike, March 26, over 100 members and allies of the coalition to Save Crane Ledge Woods called for the city to purchase the 24-acre urban woodland and tree canopy bordered by Hyde Park, Mattapan and Roslindale. The spirited rally drew support from scores of honking cars along American Legion Highway. Full conservation of Crane Ledge Woods is a once-in-a- generation’s opportunity to preserve rich urban tree canopy and invaluable carbon sink for inland neighborhoods. Preserving urban trees is a critical part of mitigating climate change while promoting climate resilience and environmental justice. Contact Mayor Wu and your city councilor by email, telephone, and US mail. To join the fight, sign the CLWC petition now.

Boston Climate Activists Join Fridays For Future Global Climate Strike

March 23, 2022

Activists of Boston and beyond will come together this Friday to demand urgent action needed to combat the intersecting crises of racism, economic and energy injustice, housing, and climate change. The strike will be on March 25, 2022, at 3 PM at the Boston Commons, where the park meets the Statehouse. The Boston Climate Action Network (BCAN), Boston University’s Environmental Student Organization (BU ESO), Extinction Rebellion Boston, Fairmount Indigo CDC Collaborative, H.E.R.O. Nurturing Center, and 350 Massachusetts are co-sponsoring this year’s Fridays For Future Massachusetts Global Climate Strike.

This year’s Global Climate Strike centers on People, Not Profit. We come together on this day to demand that our local and state policymakers take decisive actions to align with this message. We stand in solidarity with the Crane Ledge Woods Coalition to urge Boston City Council to include in its budget a line item to acquire green space infrastructure and reduce urban heat island effect in the city, starting with the Crane Ledge Woods property. To mitigate further climate change, we demand that Governor Baker and his administration heed our call for a just transition to clean energy and call on ISO-New England to stop obstructing this transition. Our full solidarity action toolkit can be found here.

Our speakers for the event are listed below:

Saahithi Achanta, BCAN: “We are all a part of a larger fight and movement against climate change when we make community efforts towards sustainability. Policymakers must understand that change starts locally, and I am incredibly proud to be a part of community efforts to promote sustainability in Boston’s public policy.”

Jose Masso, Crane Ledge Woods Coalition: “We are all connected. Anything that happens in one part of the world, or in our city impacts all of us. Our decisions and actions regarding the climate will impact our children’s children and future generations. The time to act is now!”

Judith Foster, H.E.R.O. Nurturing Center: “Environmental justice is Social justice. We can no longer ignore the science and the obvious. Our toxic environment is affecting our overall health and wellness. We know the solutions, let’s put them into sustainable practices.”

Keeley Bombard, BU ESO: “As the president of BU’s Environmental Student Organization, I sometimes feel like our passion for environmental topics is siloed on campus. With this event, we’re getting the chance to expand our reach and connect to the greater Boston community.” 

Curt Newton, 350 Mass: “In taking on our interlinked ecological and social justice crises, it really matters how we show up for each other and keep growing our capacity to work together. From repairing our relationship with nature to accelerating the clean energy transformation, 350 Mass enthusiastically supports the 2022 Boston Global Climate Strike, and stands in solidarity with BIPOC and youth leadership to create a more equitable and thriving future for all.”

Maya Nelson, Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action Network: “As a young person, being constantly told that our future is doomed can feel incredibly hopeless. However, I am honored to be fighting this fight alongside so many talented activists. The only option is to tackle climate change with everything we have, on a personal and systemic level, while making sure we listen to all impacted groups.” 

Claire Müller, Unitarian Universalist Mass Action Network: “Climate change is one more inevitable outcome of racial capitalism. We must heal and transform this entire system with a just transition. With affordable housing, indigenous justice, clean local renewable energy,  and so much more. All with loving cooperation at the heart. We made these systems, we can heal them. That does not mean we all must do everything, but each part of the movement must aim for the same vision. “

About Us

The BCAN’s mission is to organize Boston residents and collaborate with other social justice allies to advocate for climate justice and urgent action on climate emergency by the City of Boston and other policymakers.

Hailey Moll

Communications Lead, Boston Climate Action Network                                          


Remembering Owen Toney

Written by Loie Hayes

Owen is second from the left, pictured with members of Green Neighbors Education Committee at an Energy Fair in Harambee Park, Dorchester. All of these folks had earlier participated in Low Carbon Living workshops led by Owen and BCAN members.

In honor of Black History Month, BCAN wants to share a posthumous tribute to one of Boston’s most active Black climate organizers in the early 2000s: Owen Toney.

Owen was an organizer with the local chapter of ACORN in 2008, when BCAN and ACORN began co-hosting energy saving workshops in Fields Corner, Dorchester. Over the next several years Owen expanded his organizing efforts to host Energy Fairs in many Boston neighborhoods. The first Energy Fair featured political commentator Van Jones as its keynote speaker. Owen founded and directed Green Neighbors Education Committee and played important roles in a number of area environmental organizations.

 Owen helped introduce hundreds of Boston residents to issues of climate change, energy efficiency, and energy justice. He championed solutions for energy and health that centered the disproportionate impacts of climate change and energy injustice on Black, brown, and poor communities. He loved creating community events to bring energy innovations into neighborhoods. And we loved being a part of his efforts. Owen, you are missed!

Owen (near center) was an organizer at this Mission Hill Energy Fair, held on Oct. 25, 2009, in conjunction with the International Day of Action led by 350.org. (See more photos on our blog: 350 International Day of Climate Action – Boston Climate Action Network (bostoncan.org))

Saluting Hazel Johnson, Environmental Justice Leader

Written by Paula Georges

Hazel Johnson outside the office of People for Community Recovery, which she started in 1979 so residents of Altgeld Gardens could advocate for repairs in their community. (Courtesy of People for Community Recovery)

From the 1970s until her death in 2011, Hazel Johnson empowered residents to seek redress from the pollutants that threatened their health. From the South Side of Chicago, she fought for clean air and water for the residents of Altgeld Gardens, a housing project built on a toxic waste site. After the death of her husband and several neighbors from cancer, she learned that Altgeld Gardens and neighboring Calumet City had the highest cancer rates in the area. Her personal tragedy put her on a path to discover why these communities suffered from such elevated rates of cancer.

To find out what was happening to residents of Altgeld gardens and Calumet City, she initiated a community health study. Walking door-to-door to determine the health status of her neighbors, she discovered alarming rates of illness and death. In addition, she uncovered and documented the many toxic industrial and waste sites surrounding her neighborhood. Making the connection between environmental pollution and human health, she saw the ways in which environmental issues connect deeply with race, class, and gender.

In 1971, Hazel Johnson founded People for Community Recovery (PCR), now celebrating over 50 years of environmental advocacy. PCR continues to be a grassroots organization which values leadership development, transparent decision making, and community-led campaigns. PCR catalyzes residents of public housing and EJ communities to press for a clean environment. In collaboration with local residents, PCR educates and advocates for policy and programs on issues of the environment, health, housing, education, training, neighborhood safety, and economic equity.

For her efforts to expose the toxic waste hazards in vulnerable, low-income communities of color, Hazel Johnson came to be known as the mother of the environmental justice movement.

Solidarity Action: Testify for Energy Justice

From our allies, Clean Water Action Massachusetts:

CWA is very thankful for your continuous support of their Energy Efficiency campaign, as the Department of Public Utilities review process comes to an end, we need as many advocates speaking up about access to benefits as possible.

We know the EEAC voted on a plan that centers equity, now we need the DPU and the administration to approve it and make sure EJ communities have access to weatherization and energy efficiency. 

The good news is you can help us make this possible, and it will only take 2 minutes of your time! Sign up to testify at either one of the hearings, as a reminder, we are stronger together and cannot let our communities suffer any longer. 

• Wednesday, December 1, 2021, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

• Thursday, December 2, 2021, beginning at 2:00 p.m.

Here is a document with talking points for the hearings, and attached are the demands GJC has been pushing for. Please let me know if you have any further questions, I’ll be available Monday and Tuesday to help you all prep for the hearings. You can reach Paulina Casasola, Clean Water Action Climate Justice Organizer at 617 3388131 x 206.

Attendees can join the December 1, 2021 hearing at 7:00 p.m. by entering the link, https://us06web.zoom.us/j/85706654588, and the December 2, 2021 hearing at 2:00 p.m. by entering the link, https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84475716947, from a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

For audio only access to the hearings, attendees can dial in to either hearing at (646) 558-8656 or (301) 715-8592 (not toll free) and then enter the Meeting ID# 857 0665 4588 for the December 1, 2021 hearing and Meeting ID# 844 7571 6947 for the December 2, 2021 hearing.

If you anticipate providing comments via Zoom during either public hearing, please send an email by Monday, November 29, 2021, to jeffrey.leupold@mass.gov with your name, email address, mailing address, and hearing date.

If you anticipate commenting by telephone, please leave a voicemail message by Monday, November 29, 2021, at (617) 305-3684 with your name, telephone number, mailing address, and hearing date.

Lastly, if you are planning on speaking at the hearing please kindly let Paulina Casasola know.

Boston Climate News: Boston Underwater

Summary of this Boston Globe article

Post by Eliza Curtis

The United Nations projects that the world is currently on the path towards 3 degrees Celsius of warming (post-industrial levels) by the end of the century. Even with commitments from participating countries, the plans currently in place are simply not enough. With the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Glasgow scheduled for October 31 through November 12, one of the primary questions to tackle will be how to align global efforts with the original Paris Agreement, which aims to cap warming at 1.5 degrees C. 

So, what does this mean for Boston? According to Climate Central, many of Boston’s landmarks, including Boston Common, will be underwater if we continue on this current track. While the timeline for this is uncertain, we do know that “what we do in the next 10 years will matter for 10,000 years.” The research organization has released an interactive map that allows users to see with their own eyes the possible extent of sea level rise and its consequences, in both the 1.5 and 3 degrees Celsius scenarios. You can have a look here.

In 1850s Chicago, they raised the city 14 feet to combat flooding and consequent health hazards from Lake Michigan. One wonders what creative solutions the City of Boston may have to dream up in the near future, especially if we fail to aggressively curb our carbon emissions and remain on the globe’s current path.

BERDO Victory Celebration!

In a ceremony held Tuesday, October 5, at City Hall, Mayor Kim Janey signed what appears to be the most sweeping climate action ordinance in the nation. Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) mandates owners of large building to reduce climate-warming emissions 100% by 2050. To celebrate, we invite you to join us on Thursday, Nov. 4, from 5:30 – 7pm, across the street from City Hall at the outdoor, rooftop beer garden “Sam Adams Tap Room,” 60 State St, Boston, MA 02109. (Note that this is not the Sam Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain.) RSVP for the party here.

The updated city ordinance sets carbon emissions limits for buildings 20,000 square feet or greater, a key strategy in Boston’s plan for a carbon-neutral city by 2050. The event was attended by the press and by members of community groups who had advocated for the amendments, BCAN included.

BCAN played a key role in ensuring passage of BERDO 2.0, building a coalition that included allies from the Green Justice Coalition and Boston Clean Energy Coalition, and turning out volunteers time and again throughout the almost two-year process. Since the May 2019 campaign launch, BCAN volunteers have created digital and print educational materials, giving dozens of presentations throughout the city, gathered petition signatures, and delivered substantive policy suggestions to City staffers working to craft the policy. In the final days before the City Council voted on the measure, we delivered over 2000 petition signatures, with more from our coalition partners, and generated 210 letters from constituents to the district and at-large City Councilors.

Boston is the first U.S. city to codify in law a decreasing set of emissions targets to achieve 100% decarbonization. Three other U.S. cities have adopted building performance standards that are less comprehensive. As pointed out by Synapse, the City’s technical consultant on the process of developing that set of targets, the City’s new policy “incorporates innovative and flexible strategies to help building owners drive down emissions, create benefits for occupants, and ensure smart oversight.” BERDO 2.0 establishes a review board staffed by community-nominated experts to enforce limits on climate-warming emissions from Boston’s biggest buildings, the source of the vast majority of emissions coming from Boston. Winning this policy change is a huge victory! 

For more coverage of the BERDO victory, click here and here.

Mayor Kim Janey signs BERDO! (photo courtesy of City of Boston)

City Council Hosts BERDO Working, Discussion Sessions

The Government Operations Committee of the Boston City Council held two meetings in August to refine proposed amendments to the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO). In a working session on Monday, August 23, councilors conferred with Mariama White-Hammond, Boston’s Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space (EEOS), and Alison Brizius, Commissioner of the Environment Department. Councilors Matt O’Malley, Lydia Edwards, and Julia Mejia participated throughout the livestreamed session. (Initial trouble with the livestream link, plus a format which showed only the active speaker, made it unclear whether or not other councilors were observing.)

Councilors and EEOS staff were in agreement about requiring Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to be Class I and disallowing offsets for non-electricity-related emissions. Most also agreed that Review Board members must have relevant technical expertise, as well as being nominated by community groups in two-thirds of cases.

The Review Board’s set of responsibilities was also raised at a virtual discussion session on Thursday, August 26, where the public was invited to offer opinions and concerns. Whereas the proposal gives the board the authority to enforce penalties for non-compliant owners, groups representing the real estate industry argued that this function should rest with the Environment Department. BCAN disagrees. The proposal gives building owners time to prepare for retrofits, ways to apply for exceptions in special circumstances, and alternative compliance payments to cover over-limit emissions that remain despite honest efforts. Owners who take the standards seriously should not fear accountability to a knowledgeable community board.   

The next step in the BERDO process will be a second working session on Monday, September 13, at 10:30 AM. 

BERDO 2.0’s Review Board—Does it Deliver Community Oversight to the “Greening” of Boston’s Largest Buildings?

Written by Paula Georges

Boston’s large buildings, including office, commercial and residential buildings, account for over half of the city’s carbon footprint. To reduce pollutants from Boston’s dirtiest buildings and meet Boston emissions reduction goals, the City has drafted an overhaul of the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO). The amended ordinance, now called the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance, requires building owners to meet emissions standards that become more strict over time.

This ordinance’s implementation will be overseen by a Review Board. This Review Board will have responsibility for the following functions: approve hardship compliance plans and other waiver applications, approve expenditures from the Equitable Emissions Investment Fund, propose regulations to the Air Pollution Control Commission (APCC), and oversee enforcement.

But who will be making these decisions? Who will sit on the Review Board? Review Board members have significant regulatory authority to determine how strictly the rules are enforced and how equitably funds are spent.  Will big building owners be allowed to police themselves? Or will there be true community accountability? Review Board members must have credibility with under-served neighborhoods and residents in carrying out their significant authority. Board members should be drawn from community-based groups who can represent and give voice to the environmental justice populations most affected by climate change and who will benefit the most from building upgrades.

Coming Up: Boston City Council hearing on BERDO 2.0 on Thursday, July 22, 3PM. The hearing offers an opportunity for BCAN and other climate advocacy groups to weigh in on these amendments. 

Watch live at bit.ly/BostonCityCouncilTV