Governor proposes controversial change in how Massachusetts spends money on global warming

It’s an obscure provision in the governor’s latest budget, but it could have significant implications for how the state addresses climate change.

The controversial proposal has also exposed a rift between environmental groups over whether the state should focus its efforts more on curbing the emissions that cause global warming or trying to blunt the impact of climate change. One approach confronts the cause; the other seeks to mitigate the consequences.

In his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, Governor Charlie Baker has suggested changing how the state spends tens of millions of dollars it receives every year from its participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a market-based compact of nine states that effectively taxes carbon emissions from power plants and allows each state to use the proceeds to reduce pollution.