100 Chairs = 100 Lives Lost Every 6 Hours to Climate Crisis: Marylanders Demand Comprehensive Climate Legislation in 2022

Activists call for 60% cuts in climate pollution, full building electrification, and climate justice


ANNAPOLIS, MD
— Today, Maryland legislators were greeted by the solemn sight of 100 empty chairs spread across Lawyers Mall. The chairs represented the 100 lives lost around the globe every 6 hours to climate disasters. As a legislative response, Maryland activists demanded a 60% cut in state greenhouse gas emissions and the full electrification of new buildings.

A coalition of activists organized this demonstration, while taking COVID-safety precautions, because the climate crisis cannot wait. But they were not only spotlighting the human costs, they were also demanding that Maryland legislators adopt key policies to fight climate change — cutting climate pollution 60% by 2030, fully electrifying new buildings and planning equitable retrofits, and targeting benefits of climate action to communities most impacted by the crisis.

Organizers from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) Action Fund, MaryPIRG Student Climate Action Coalition, and CASA the protest action. They chalked statistics, held signs and handed out flyers to passing Maryland state legislators, demanding that they face the climate catastrophe with boldness and honesty. 

Victoria Venable, Maryland Director for CCAN Action Fund, said, “These empty chairs are a stark visual reminder of the lives lost every day, every hour, to the climate crisis. Annapolis leaders now must do their part and pass legislation to cut dirty emissions 60% and mandate all-electric new buildings in the state.”

With 3,000 miles of tidal shoreline, Maryland is one of the most vulnerable states in America. Record high-tide flooding now occurs in places like Annapolis and Baltimore, even on sunny days. Extreme precipitation events brought two “100-year floods” to Ellicott City in just 22 months. And heat waves are diminishing agriculture yields and creating a health crisis in urban areas, disproportionately harming low-income communities of color.

Emma Green, campus Delegate for University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science with MaryPIRG Student Climate Action Network said, “It’s time to pass the most comprehensive climate package in Maryland’s history. These are our lives that we’re talking about. Our future is literally at stake and the best way for us to fight climate change is by changing climate policies.”

Maryland was a leader in climate legislation but has fallen far behind in recent years. Now a large coalition of climate advocates is working with state legislators to return Maryland to its national leadership role. To do so, the demonstrators said, Maryland must:

  • Increase the state’s greenhouse gas reduction target 60% by 2030
  • Mandate the full electrification of new buildings in Maryland by 2023
  • Dramatically expand zero-emission vehicle use

In addition, all federal and state funds must follow “justice 40” guidelines by allocating at least 40% of funds to impacted and underserved communities. If the 2022 climate bills in the House and Senate pass, advocates and legislators agree that these goals are within reach.

 The full list of partners in support of this demonstration include:

 CASA de Maryland, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Cedar Lane Environmental Justice Ministry, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Climate Law & Policy Project,  Climate Reality – Montgomery County Chapter, Climate Reality – Baltimore Area Chapter, Downtown Residents Advocacy Network (Baltimore), Elders Climate Action DMV, Environment Maryland, Greenbelt Climate Action Network, Howard County Climate Action, Indivisible Howard County, Interfaith Power & Light (DC, MD, NoVa), League of Women Voters Maryland, Lower Eastern Shore Group – Sierra Club, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Maryland Legislative Coalition, Maryland Sierra Club, MaryPIRG Student Climate Action Coalition, MLC Climate Justice Wing, Sunrise Movement Baltimore, Takoma Park Mobilization Environment Committee, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Women Indivisible Strong Effective (WISE), 350MoCo

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The CCAN Action Fund is the advocacy arm of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For almost 20 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

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