With the 2022 Legislative Session rapidly approaching, MACo is profiling some major issues that stand to gather attention in the General Assembly’s work. Here, we preview potential actions surrounding climate change.
Maryland is no stranger to the impacts of our ever-shifting climate. From sea-level rise, increasing average temperatures, more extreme weather, and the pandemic, Marylanders are already feeling the sting of climate change. In 2022, Maryland’s leaders are looking to mitigation and adaptation measures to help prevent future disasters.
The issue papers mention recommendations from the Maryland Commission on Climate Change (MDCC). The MCCC is a group of State agencies, experts, and other stakeholders charged with planning for the likely effects of climate change in Maryland, which it accomplishes by making recommendations through its four working groups.
In 2020, MCCC made recommendations on several climate-related topics, including transportation, energy efficiency in new and existing buildings, natural and working lands, and environmental justice. Specifically, MCCC’s recommendations for the building sector included passing legislation to (1) encourage energy customers to switch from using fossil fuels to using electric energy in their homes; (2) expand the core objective of the EmPOWER Maryland Program, the State’s energy efficiency and conservation program; (3) establish an incentive program for electric space heating and water heating in buildings; (4) require all new and major renovations to State-owned buildings to use efficient electric space and water heating; and (5) use various tools to ensure that the State will meet the goal that electric heat pump sales make up at least 50% of all space heater sales. MCCC’s recommendations related to environmental and climate justice included working with other government entities and the public to identify communities vulnerable to climate change and study methods for ensuring the equitable distribution of assistance provided under climate change programs. MCCC also recommended studying the promotion of climate-friendly manufacturing in the State and the impacts of energy transition policies on both industry and communities.
Although MCCC’s 2021 annual report was not published as of the date of this Issue Papers of the 2022 Session, MCCC meeting materials indicate that the report will likely include a comprehensive plan for achieving net-zero emissions in residential and commercial buildings and recommendations related to climate justice and ocean acidification.
MACo is already providing input with various state actors regarding building and environmental regulations updates. We anticipate new methane emissions regulations and new draft regulations for residential and commercial buildings being prominent topics in the upcoming year. Sometime in 2022, the focus will shift to government facilities after new residential and commercial building regulations are finalized.
Also included in the report was a discussion on financing climate change policy. An essential part of policy implementation is ensuring that there exist adequate resources. Funding availability is crucial to achieving necessary results and reductions. The report noted:
The methods for financing climate change policy can have a meaningful impact on both the public and private sector, depending on the strategies and the parties responsible for implementing those strategies. Examples of the types of financing options available include:
• redirecting existing funds toward climate priorities;
• incentivizing actions to implement climate policy, such as providing tax incentives or grants;
• requiring certain actions in the private sector, including energy conservation requirements for privately owned buildings;
• taking advantage of available funding sources, such as federal funding, to implement policies; and
• using a market-based approach that would require any industry emitting carbon to pay a tax or purchase credits to account for its emissions.