The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is pleased the Climate Solutions Now Act has been enacted following Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to allow it to become law without his signature.
This landmark new law will put Maryland among the leading states working to address the harmful greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels that are causing climate change. In Maryland, greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, power plants, and buildings are contributing to global climate change, which is causing stronger storms, sea level rise, and increased flooding that threaten communities. In the Chesapeake Bay, these symptoms of climate change are leading to additional pollution from increasing stormwater runoff, higher water temperatures, and changes in wildlife distribution.
The law will require the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent by 2031 and reach net zero emissions by 2045. It calls on the state to electrify state buildings and vehicles and update building codes for large buildings to make them more energy efficient. And it establishes a green bank to finance projects to reduce emissions and creates a new workforce training program to help young people begin climate-related careers.
While the legislation was amended to eliminate a ban on new gas hookups for buildings—an action that would reduce one of the state’s three largest sources of emissions—the bill's greenhouse gas reduction goals present an opportunity for state leaders to pursue actions in the future to meet them.
Recent polling has shown residents are concerned about climate change, with 55 percent of state voters agreeing there have been major climate impacts such as rising sea levels, retreating shorelines, and changes in wildlife and ecosystems. Meanwhile 54 percent of voters also reported seeing major impacts in the state due to extreme weather related to climate change.
A report released earlier this month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended cutting emissions by 43 percent by 2030 and achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 to limit warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius. The report called on leaders to pursue policies to expand renewable energy sources, reduce building emissions, and decarbonize the economy by limiting fossil fuel use.
In response to Climate Solutions Now becoming law, Maryland Executive Director Josh Kurtz issued the following statement:
“We’re encouraged to see this landmark legislation advance into law. The greenhouse gas reduction goals in the law set Maryland on a path toward decarbonization that aligns with scientific recommendations to prevent the worst predicted outcomes of climate change. But there’s still significant work left to do. To reach those goals the state must pursue equitable policies that directly limit emissions from vehicles, power plants, and buildings. Many of the methods used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as planting trees, greening cities, electrifying vehicles and buildings, expanding renewable energy, and supporting regenerative agriculture also help restore the Chesapeake Bay. With this new law Maryland won’t be watching as other states fight climate change, our state will be among the leaders.”