Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation

Volunteers in the marsh at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Massachusetts, along with other states and nations, has a two-part approach to combating the effects of human-induced climate change:

  • emissions reduction, otherwise known as mitigation
  • preparing for some now inevitable consequences, otherwise known as adaptation


Massachusetts has been recognized by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy as the number-one state in the nation for its leadership in energy-efficiency policies and programs in the residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors. This was done, in part by statutorily requiring Green House Gas (GHG) Emission reduction targets through the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA, Chapter 298 of the Acts of 2008), and the Renewable Portfolio Standard through the Green Communities Act (Chapter 169 of the Acts of 2008).


Whereas mitigation is the prevention of climate change-related impacts, adaptation is the strategic planning, projects and programs that help plants, animals and natural communities cope with, adjust to, and manage the impacts of climate change. Adaptation can help prevent local extinction of plant and animal species by restoring, protecting and connecting lands and waters. These efforts build healthy and resilient ecosystems and allow species to migrate as temperatures change.

Mass Audubon strongly advocates that Massachusetts should have statutorily required policy and planning requirements on the adaptation side of the climate change equation. The Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report (September 2011) sets the stage for developing a statewide, comprehensive, quantifiable adaptation plan that protects the health, welfare and nature of Massachusetts.

We have partnered with The Nature Conservancy in organizing the Mass Climate Change Adaptation Coalition, which is comprised of engineers, architects, planners, and conservation and environmental organizations working together to reduce the Commonwealth’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.

In addition, Mass Audubon is planning a four-part campaign to advance a successful and comprehensive adaptation strategy for the Commonwealth that uses the state laws as well as best practices from other states to inform our work. Specifically, our plan will work with the:

  • Executive branch to continue to work as members of the administration’s GWSA Implementation Advisory Committee (IAC).
  • Legislative branch to draft and file comprehensive adaptation legislation and requisite management planning.
  • Partners to establish a coalition of adaptation stakeholders.
  • Media to provide public education and outreach through social and traditional media.

Priority Legislation

Mass Audubon supports the passage of An Act establishing a comprehensive adaptation management plan in response to climate change, which prepares Massachusetts for the impacts of climate change by identifying where we are most vulnerable and taking measures to protect public health, public safety and the economy. Learn More >

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