Maryland on track to meet 2020 climate goal
Maryland on track to meet 2020 climate goal
Department of the Environment reports steady progress, emerging opportunities
Maryland is on pace to meet the greenhouse gas emissions reductions required under State law while benefiting from billions of dollars in economic growth, but continued progress will be needed to minimize the effects of climate change while continuing to create jobs, a new Maryland Department of the Environment report states.
Assessing and updating the State’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Department of the Environment projects that Maryland will slightly surpass the goal of reducing those emissions by 25 percent by 2020. The report – titled 2015 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act Plan Update – states that current projections show that Maryland’s greenhouse gas reduction plan will result in as much as $3.5 billion in increased economic output by 2020 and help create and maintain as many as 33,000 new jobs.
The updated plan includes a recommendation to look beyond 2020 by adopting a “next step” toward deeper reductions needed while increasing the emphasis on improving Maryland’s economy. The report shows how clear progress can be made as markets shape our energy options. It also highlights actions that will also improve air quality, restore the Chesapeake Bay and preserve agricultural land and forests. It also calls for an increased emphasis on adaptation, resilience and preparedness to contend with the effects of climate change.
“We are on track to meet our own climate change goal and requirements,” said Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles. “We have even greater opportunities ahead of us. Maryland and its citizens and communities can reduce environmental and economic risks, increase energy choices and improve statewide resilience and preparedness through smart and balanced actions. We are committed to market-based strategies and partnerships that link our energy, environmental and economic goals more than ever before.”
“The effective stewardship of our environment and natural resources require a constant yet flexible approach to addressing ever-changing climate conditions,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “Today’s report reinforces our belief that through adaption, education, mitigation and research, we can make real progress toward our goals, which benefit both the state and its people.”
The updated plan report was required under the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, which was signed into law in 2009. That law requires a statewide reduction of greenhouse gases of at least 25 percent by 2020, compared to 2006 levels. The law also requires demonstration that the goal could be achieved in a way that has a positive impact on Maryland’s economy, protects existing manufacturing jobs and creates significant new jobs in Maryland.
To achieve these goals, the Department of the Environment, working with other State agencies and interested parties, developed the 2012 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan. The 2009 law requires MDE to submit the updated report to the Governor and General Assembly. The Department of the Environment worked with the Maryland Commission on Climate Change and reached out for public comment in preparing the updated plan report.
Through the process used to develop the updated plan, the Department calculated the 25 percent statewide greenhouse gas emissions reductions from 2006 to 2020 to be 34.66 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MMtCO2e). The combined emissions reductions of all programs in the updated plan are projected to be 38.37 MMtCO2e.
The updated plan will support new industry and accelerate investments in new technologies by encouraging investments in the energy, transportation and land-use sectors of Maryland’s economy. Current analyses project between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion in increased economic output by 2020 to help create and maintain between 26,000 and 33,000 new jobs.
The 2009 law requires the Maryland General Assembly to take an action in 2016 or the requirements of the law will sunset. The law also requires the Department of the Environment to provide recommendations in the plan update on how the State should move forward on climate change.
The Department’s recommendations include:
- Continue to implement and enhance the programs in the 2012 plan with increased focus on finding ways to continue emissions reductions that support economic development and job creation.
- Adopt a “next step” of incremental progress toward the deeper reductions needed that also increases the emphasis on improving Maryland’s economy by establishing quantitative goals for economic growth, job creation and wages linked to those efforts.
- Continue to analyze emerging issues such as enhanced efforts on renewable energy, energy efficiency and transportation that further reduce emissions in a way that fosters economic development and protects consumers.
- Increase the emphasis on adaptation, resilience and preparedness.
Maryland Commission on Climate Change
In May 2015, the Maryland Climate Change Commission Act of 2015 was signed into law. The commission is chaired by Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles and is supported by four working groups. The working groups provided valuable input and assistance in the development of the 2015 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act Plan Update.