Climate Change Commission Recommends Increasing Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal

An October 29, 2015, Baltimore Sun article reported that the Maryland Commission on Climate Change has unanimously recommended that Maryland set a goal in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions of 40 percent by 2030.  This recommendation is an increase of the State’s current reduction goal of 25 percent by 2020, which was set by the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2009 (HB 315 / SB 278). The recommendation comes as the General Assembly must consider during the 2016 Session whether to keep or modify the 2009 goal. In the article, Maryland Secretary of the Environment Benjamin Grumbles stressed that any climate change goal must not cause economic harm:

Grumbles declined to address politics. He said the panel’s vote was “driven by science,” but he also stressed that it had recommended further action only as long as it helped the state’s economy and produced more jobs.

Those are the same conditions under which the state has been making progress on reaching its current climate goal, he said.

Further reactions to the recommendation from the article:

“It’s pretty extraordinary in this day and age to see a bipartisan commission — [including one] representing the highest levels of a Republican administration — voting for such cutting-edge reductions of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mike Tidwell, executive director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Only California and New York have set more ambitious targets for curbing their states’ climate pollution, he said. …

Matthew A. Clark, a spokesman for Hogan, stopped short of endorsing the commission’s recommendation but said it was “promising” that the panel unanimously linked economic growth to addressing climate change.

“Setting business-friendly and attainable goals for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is a step in the right direction,” Clark said. …

State Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, a leading voice for the environment in the legislature, said it was important to reach agreement now to avoid the political gridlock that delayed passage of the 25 percent goal for two years. …

Michael Powell, a Baltimore lawyer representing business and industry on the panel, said he agreed to the new goal because it included continuing economic safeguards.