Bipartisan Maryland Commission on Climate Change Urges Higher State Goal for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Contact:

Tiffany Hartung, Maryland Climate Coalition, (443) 759-3402, hartungt@nwf.org

 

Bipartisan Maryland Commission on Climate Change Urges Higher State Goal for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On heels of Paris climate talks, state commission recommends strong climate action

Baltimore, M.D.— Today, the Maryland Commission on Climate Change released a report  formally recommending that the Maryland General Assembly extend the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA) goals to achieve a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 2006 levels.  Business, health, labor and climate advocates are applauding this move as a necessary step to combat climate disruption and provide clean and safe air for Maryland families, while growing the state’s economy and creating jobs.

“Addressing climate change is an economic opportunity for Maryland,” said Kimberly Armstrong of Abeona Group, a Maryland based clean energy business.   “Today’s report estimates that the benefit to the State’s economy of the current greenhouse gas reduction plan is between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion by 2020 and will help create and maintain between 26,000 and 33,000 new jobs.  Extending the goals of Maryland’s plan will continue to create jobs and drive investment in the state.”

The Commission is a bipartisan group that was codified into law earlier this year and has been working throughout the year to develop its recommendation. The Commission also looked at how climate change impacts Maryland’s vulnerable communities and included recommendations to ensure that the plan is inclusive and benefits all Marylanders.

“The Commission’s report calls attention to the health benefits that will accrue to Marylanders through the cleaner air that comes with greenhouse gas reductions,” said Rebecca Ruggles of the Maryland Environmental Health Network.

In 2009, Maryland’s GGRA law directed the state to reduce heat-trapping pollution by 25 percent by 2020, and led to the creation of Maryland’s wide-ranging Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan.  Through the plan, Maryland committed to implement smart environmental and economic strategies, such as increasing clean energy use, helping customers save energy and money through Maryland’s EmPower program, and participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional program that reduces carbon pollution from power plants.

Today’s report confirmed that the state is well on its way to meeting the initial greenhouse gas reduction target, but must build on this progress to protect critical infrastructure, economic prosperity and public health.

“A changing climate and more extreme storms will affect the Port of Baltimore’s docking, navigation channels and will make access roads near ports vulnerable to flooding,” added Joe Uehlein of the Labor Network for Sustainability.  “With a decrease of 1 percent in shipping at the Port of Baltimore between now and 2018, we will lose more than 3,600 jobs — jobs Maryland families cannot afford to lose.  The recommendations of this plan, put out by the Commission, will not only help protect Marylanders but also continue to create family-supporting jobs on our way to a clean energy future.”

“The 2016 Maryland General Assembly session will be a crucial time to renew and strengthen Maryland’s response to climate change,” said Tiffany Hartung of the Maryland Climate Coalition.  “Increasing our greenhouse gas reduction goals, as recommended by the commission, should go hand in hand with increasing our clean energy standard.”

The 2009 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act sunsets in 2016 and will need to be reauthorized by Maryland General Assembly. The General Assembly will also consider expanding Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard, the state’s clean energy standard, to 25 percent by 2020 in the 2016 session.

The Maryland Commission on Climate Change is a bipartisan Commission made up of cabinet secretaries, legislators and stakeholders including union leaders, business and environmental groups.

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The Maryland Climate Coalition brings together environmental, faith, labor, and civic organizations to advance clean energy and climate policies in Maryland.  For more information about the Maryland Climate Coalition, visit http://www.marylandclimatecoalition.org.