By Maryland Today Staff
Maryland can meet its climate goals—the most ambitious in the nation—by implementing existing policies and finding opportunities for new emissions reductions across sectors ranging from energy to transportation, according to a report submitted today by Gov. Wes Moore to the General Assembly that was based on analysis and modeling by the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland.
The report from the Maryland Department of the Environment presents options to meet the state’s goals of 60% emissions reductions by 2031 and net-zero emissions by 2045, including a strong federal partnership and a broader all-of-society approach that integrates actions from cities, counties, local jurisdictions, business and industry leaders, community organizations, and more.
“This report, and the science-based path it lays out, is a major step forward in addressing the historic challenges we face when it comes to our climate goals,” said Moore. “The report outlines a host of options to not only help address climate change, but also to help create a new center for industry in Maryland that will promote equity, ensure economic benefit and make Maryland a world leader in sustainable practices for generations to come.”
Maryland has adopted and implemented some of the nation's most comprehensive climate policies, including renewable energy deployment, the Advanced Clean Cars II rule and energy-efficient building standards. This new analysis shows that through these actions, the state is already on track to achieve up to 85% of the reductions needed to meet its 2031 target.
The “Maryland’s Climate Pathway” report presents sector-by-sector emissions reductions through a suite of current and potential policies and actions. It also highlights a range of societal benefits associated with implementing Maryland's climate pathway. These include improved air quality and reduced respiratory ailments, especially for vulnerable populations. Altogether, it will help create more than 16,000 new jobs, increase personal income by nearly $1.5 billion and deliver the equivalent of $1.09-$2.44 billion in health benefits by 2031.
"’Maryland’s Climate Pathway’ shows that our state can indeed achieve its vision for a clean, healthy and climate-friendly future—and in doing so, empower a vibrant economy that works for all Marylanders," said Nathan Hultman, director of the Center for Global Sustainability.
The analysis draws on best practices across every sector of the economy. While significant emissions reductions will come from the electricity, transportation, building and industry sectors by 2031, additional measures will be needed in the agriculture and waste sectors, including critical reductions in methane. Collaboration and support from Maryland's businesses, universities and stakeholders will be vital, including identifying suitable sites for renewable energy production and leveraging federal tax credits.
Among the report’s potential emissions reductions strategies are a “cap-and-invest” approach that sets greenhouse gas limits for organizations, increased deployment of zero-emissions and electric vehicles, boosting public transit to cut personal vehicle use, electrification of all appliances and shifting the electricity grid to clean energy generation.
“Maryland has demonstrated a deep commitment to combating climate change through its bold actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions,” said Assistant Research Professor Kathleen Kennedy at the Center for Global Sustainability and lead author on the report. “Our report and its comprehensive pathway underscore Maryland's potential to achieve its goals and tap into expanded resources, cost savings, job creation, improved air quality, safer homes and roads, and much more.”
The Maryland Department of the Environment invites public comments on the report throughout the summer. MDE will host public outreach sessions across the state and online; In-person events will be held on July 25 and Aug. 8, 14 and 19, and virtual events will be held on Sept. 5 and 26. Based on this report and stakeholder input, MDE will develop the state’s greenhouse gas reduction plan to submit to the governor and General Assembly.
“Marylanders’ voices are critical in this effort, and we will reach out in the coming months to hear their ideas and gather their input as we develop the final climate plan that is due in December,” said MDE Secretary Serena McIlwain.