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State slightly short of energy efficiency goal

Despite success up until now, the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from the levels of 1990 may not be met at the Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick Administration’s current rate, according to a report by the Global Warming Solutions Project.

The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 requires Massachusetts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Additionally, the Green Communities Act of 2008 required states to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy.

At this point, Massachusetts has lowered its gas emissions by 20 percent and although the Environmental League of Massachusetts praises Patrick for that success, they are pushing for further action.

“For climate and clean energy advocates, Gov. Patrick’s administration and the Massachusetts legislature have been national leaders in promoting energy efficiency and promoting renewable energy,” said George Bachrach, president of ELM, in a Monday release. “But challenges still remain, and Gov. Patrick and the legislature should use his final months in office to meet this statutory obligation and put the Commonwealth on a path to a greener future.”

Eugenia Gibbons, program director of ELM, said there are five areas of action highlighted from the report for the Patrick Administration’s use.

An area of action that residents can take part in is increasing the use of non-auto transportation. MassDOT announced a “mode-shift” goal in 2012 hoping to triple the share of Massachusetts travel being done through walking, bicycling and public transit. Gibbons said this is “essential” to meeting the 25 percent gas emissions reduction by 2020.

“The Patrick Administration has many reasons to be proud of what it has achieved so far on climate change,” she said. “And yet there remains a great deal to do. We have every confidence that if encouraged, the Administration will step up this vitally important work during its last 10 months, continuing to press for changes and programs that will help the people and businesses of the Commonwealth and to cement its legacy.”

Krista Selmi, assistant secretary of communications at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said despite critics, Boston has been ranked first in the nation in energy efficiency for years running.

“The Patrick Administration has set some of the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets in the country and we have laid the foundation to meet these goals by initiating a variety of legislative actions, executive orders and new regulations addressing climate change and promoting clean energy,” she said in a Tuesday statement. “As the scorecard indicates, we have delivered measurable and meaningful progress to date.”

Selmi said the administration has already taken ELM’s advice into account and the Department of Public Utilities just contracted a study on methane gas leaks.

“We recognize the need to maintain our focus and have already taken concrete action in the specific areas that the ELM/GWSP has identified,” she said. “We appreciate advocates’ support and we look forward to working with ELM and all our energy and environmental partners on our plans for the future.”

Many residents said they are proud of Boston’s success in energy efficiency initiatives, but think the road ahead is going to get harder.

“It’s great they put so much effort into something that effects and benefits everyone,” said Jason Shih, 37, of Fenway. “But the steam they started out with isn’t going to last. The hardest part will be reaching the point of reducing the emissions by 80 percent.”

Laura Montez, 39, of the South End, said there is only so much progress that can be made.

“They started out really strong, with a lot of initiatives,” she said. “But the world is becoming more and more reliant on energy, so no matter how energy efficient things are, we can’t completely prevent anything.”

Kevin Clemens, 41, of Allston, said Boston will continue to be a leader in this field, with innovators constantly thinking of new ways to save energy.

“It’s definitely amazing the progress that has already been made,” he said. “Some people might not think it’s possible or even worth it, but the science and technology fields are so big in this city that we’ll always be a leader in innovation.”

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