2022: Make Maryland a Climate Leader

Recent years have shown us just how catastrophic the impacts of climate change can and will be if we don’t aggressively cut emissions now. We saw flooding, sea level rise, and tornadoes, and all signs point to more of these impacts in the years to come. We also feel the daily impacts of climate pollution. These impacts, whether they are extreme weather events or chronic climate stresses, are not felt equally. The lowest-lying communities are affected most by sea-level rise and associated flooding and those are disproportionately communities of color due to systemic marginalization by government agencies and processes.

With 3100 miles of coastline, our state is particularly vulnerable to climate change — yet also well-positioned to fight it. This means bold decarbonization in the top-emitting sectors: transportation, electricity, and buildings. In 2019, we tackled the electricity sector by passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Now, we need to take on buildings and the transportation sector while committing to bolder emissions reduction goals and climate action on the state level.

What Should Maryland’s Climate Platform Look Like?

CCAN has been working hard with fellow climate advocates, communities, and legislators to develop strong, bold, and comprehensive climate policy to aggressively decarbonize the top-emitting sectors. This includes setting emissions reduction goals and outlining specific actions to meet those commitments.

Strengthening Emissions Reduction Requirements  

Currently, our state’s draft climate plan to reduce emissions — proposed by the Hogan Administration in 2019 and legally mandated under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA) of 2016 — is outdated, flawed, and not strong enough to match what the scientists are calling for. In order to secure a safe climate for Marylanders of all generations, we have to drastically improve our climate action plan and put in place policies that will begin reducing emissions immediately. We need to set a target of reducing emissions by 60% from 2006 levels by 2030 and outline a plan to achieve that goal. 

Vehicle Electrification

Transportation is the largest source of climate pollution in Maryland. Our state should lead by example and electrify the state vehicle fleet and all public school buses. And by targeting school bus electrification to benefit communities that have been most impacted by transportation pollution and underinvestment due to redlining and racial segregation, we can center our vehicle electrification policy in environmental and racial justice. 

Building Electrification

Direct use of gas, heating oil, and propane in buildings — primarily for space heating and water heating — accounted for 13 percent of Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. 

In the 2021 Annual Report and Building Energy Transition Plan, the Maryland Commission on Climate Change recommends that all new construction in the state meet water and space heating demands with all-electric appliances no later than 2024. The Commission found that all-electric new homes have lower construction and energy costs than mixed-fuel homes and therefore this recommendation would help improve housing affordability and local air quality while reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland. 

In 2022, legislators should mandate all-electric new construction starting in 2023. States like New York, Washington, and Massachusetts are pursuing building electrification and Maryland cannot fall behind in this important sector!

Building Emissions Reduction

While preventing further carbon emissions through all-electric new construction, we should also pursue aggressive emission reductions in existing buildings. To do this, we need a plan to ensure that Maryland’s large buildings achieve net-zero emissions by 2040 while protecting tenants from additional costs.

This can be done with a Building Emissions Performance Standard and should include justice provisions like an Equitable Emissions Reduction Fund that helps low and moderate-income building owners comply, and a Retrofit Accelerator that acts as a one-stop-shop for Government assistance programs.