State Report Reveals Options to Meet Net-Zero Emissions Goals

This article is part of MACo’s Deep Dive series, where expert analysts explore and explain the top county issues of the day. A new article is added each week – read all of MACo’s Deep Dives. 

Late last week the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) released a report presenting options to meet Maryland’s ambitious climate goals of 60% emissions reductions by 2031 and net-zero emissions by 2045. The report describes a potential pathway, as required by the Climate Solutions Now Act (CSNA), and is based on the most up-to-date analysis and modeling by the Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) at the University of Maryland.

According to the press release:

“This report, and the science-based path it lays out, is a major step forward in addressing the historic challenges we face when it comes to our climate goals,” said Gov. Moore. “The report outlines a host of options to not only help address climate change, but also to help create a new center for industry in Maryland that will promote equity, ensure economic benefit, and make Maryland a world leader in sustainable practices for generations to come.”

“This report lays a foundation for us to build a just and equitable climate response that will help build greener, healthier communities across the state,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Serena McIlwain. “Marylanders’ voices are critical in this effort, and we will reach out in the coming months to hear their ideas and gather their input as we develop the final climate plan that is due in December.”

“Maryland’s Climate Pathway shows that our state can indeed achieve its vision for a clean, healthy, and climate-friendly future—and in doing so, empower a vibrant economy that works for all Marylanders,” says Nate Hultman, Director at the Center for Global Sustainability. “Working with our communities, cities, counties, industries and businesses, citizen groups and diverse organizations, and partnering with the federal government, we can achieve our goals and build a model for all-of-society climate action in the United States and even the world.”

The state’s goals, also set by the CSNA, are the most ambitious in the nation. Maryland’s Climate Pathway presents sector-by-sector emissions reductions through a suite of current and potential policies and actions. It also highlights the substantial economic, health, jobs, and environmental benefits that the pathway delivers for Marylanders.

The Executive Summary of the Climate Report contains a narrative on where Maryland is, and may need to go, to attain its ambitious goals in greenhouse gas reductions for the years ahead.

Maryland is a climate leader and has set a high bar among states with its adoption and implementation of some of the nation’s most ambitious climate policies, including renewable energy deployment, the Advanced Clean Cars II rule, and energy-efficient building standards. This new analysis shows that through these actions, the state is already on track to achieve up to 85% of the reductions needed to meet its 2031 target—and this report offers a comprehensive approach to fill the remaining gap, reach 60% reductions and set a path to net-zero by 2045.

Importantly, the report highlights a range of societal benefits associated with implementing Maryland’s Climate Pathway. These include improved air quality and reduced respiratory ailments, especially for vulnerable populations. Altogether, this proposed pathway to achieve 60% emissions reductions will help create more than 16,000 new jobs, increase personal income by nearly $1.5 billion, and deliver the equivalent of $1.09-$2.44 billion in health benefits by 2031.

Maryland’s Climate Pathway draws on best practices across every sector of the economy. While significant emissions reductions will come from the electricity, transportation, buildings, and industry sectors by 2031, additional measures will be needed in the agriculture and waste sectors. Collaboration and support from Maryland’s businesses, universities, and stakeholders will be vital, including identifying suitable sites for renewable energy production and leveraging federal tax credits.

The Maryland Department of the Environment invites public comments on the report throughout the summer. MDE will host public outreach sessions across the state and online; In-person events will be held on July 25, August 8, August 14, and August 19 of 2023, and virtual events will be held on September 5 and September 26 of 2023. Based on this report and stakeholder input, MDE will develop the state’s GHG reduction plan to submit to the Governor and General Assembly by the end of 2023.

Check out the Executive Summary. 

Read the full story.

Check out the report. 

MACo Summer Conference

At the 2023 MACo Summer Conference general session, “More Than Bricks & Mortar (Part 2): Infrastructure & Climate Change,” panelists will discuss near and longterm challenges, including: how sea level rise will shape development, the impacts of hotter summers on public health, and the challenges and opportunities around full electrification. 
The 2023 MACo Summer Conference will be held at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD from August 16-19. This year’s theme is “Where the Rubber Meets the Road” More information can be found on our conference website.