The Maryland Commission on Climate Change (MCCC) met on June 21, 2017, and re-committed to the continuation of its climate change goals, including the State’s goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 40% by 2030.
Maryland’s Position on Climate Change at State and National Levels
Maryland Secretary of the Environment Benjamin Grumbles reiterated that Governor Larry Hogan and Maryland will be moving forward with the State’s climate change action plan and is encouraging other states to participate in REGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative). Grumbles also noted that the State is reviewing the newly formed United States Climate Alliance but has not yet decided whether it will participate.
Maryland Senator Paul Pinsky stressed the importance of remaining in the Paris Climate Accord and that the Climate Alliance represented a key opportunity to continue United States participation. (Previously President Donald Trump had announced the United States was withdrawing from the Paris Accords but intended to rejoin after renegotiating participation terms.) Grumbles responded that the Governor has stated the importance of the United States participating in the Accord but that Maryland’s participation in the Alliance is still under review and there could be other equally effective methods of encouraging climate change.
Chesapeake Climate Action Network founder and director Mike Tidwell argued that participating in the Alliance sent an important message and that strengthening REGGI (particularly the cap) was also critical. Grumbles agreed that REGGI could be improved and did not rule out Maryland’s ultimate participation in the Alliance.
Discussion on “40 by 30” Goal
The bi-partisan Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2016 (SB 323) requires Maryland to achieve a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from their 2006 levels by 2030. The legislation also includes some economic and job protections as the State works to achieve the reduction goal. Maryland is on track to meet a prior emission reduction goal of 25% by 2025.
The new 40 by 30 draft plan is due by end of 2018 and a final plan is due by the end of 2019. There is a mid-point review in 2022 and the Act must be reauthorized through legislation in 2023. The plan must reduce 57 to 61 metric tons of greenhouse gases to account for existing pollution sources and anticipated population and pollution growth.
The current 2025 plan will get the State a good portion of the way, but will leave a gap that must be addressed. Programs for more fuel efficient cars and aircraft and electric vehicles should help. The State is developing better data on carbon sequestration by wetlands and trees.
Pinsky raised concerns about the accuracy of some of the assumed greenhouse gas emission and reduction assumptions and that other policy options, such as a carbon tax, must be at least discussed. Grumbles noted that the assumptions are based on modeled and need further refinement and that the discussed programs were not necessarily the only programs that could be considered.
The MCCC decided to have a further discussion on the issue through its workgroups and at future meetings. It was also noted that the plan needs to consider what will need to be done beyond 2030, even though future goals have not yet been set.
New Climate Change Commission Website
MCCC has just launched a new and more user-friendly website. The website will be further refined over time to ensure ease of use and public accessibility.
2017 MCCC Annual Report
The deadline of the 2017 MCCC Annual Report is November 15, 2017.
MCCC also received an update on the climate change activities of various State agencies, approved a series of one-page climate change handouts for final review, and reviewed the activities of its four work groups.