With the release of Pope Francis’s sweeping climate change encyclical, quickly followed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s comprehensive report on the stunning economic costs of runaway global warming, the national spotlight is on climate change now more than ever. Here in Maryland, we are poised to make some momentous decisions related to climate action this year. Which of course means that we all have our work cut out for us!
First, we will need to make sure Maryland stays committed to achieving science-based reductions in statewide greenhouse gas emissions. In the next General Assembly session in Annapolis, we will need to pass legislation renewing the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, which expires at the end of 2016. First passed in 2009 – thanks in large part to CCAN activists like you – this landmark law requires that we slash statewide carbon emissions by at least 25% below 2006 levels by the year 2020. Renewing this law is of tremendous importance for climate-vulnerable Maryland, as explained in this recent Baltimore Sun letter to the editor by CCAN fellow Jamie DeMarco. In order to achieve those reductions, this law also required the creation of Maryland’s Climate Action Plan, which was released in 2013.
At the same time, we have to ensure Maryland actually achieves those science-based reductions, and that means we need to make serious headway towards a clean energy economy. That’s why one of the most important pieces of the Climate Action Plan is ramping up Maryland’s clean electricity standard. Looking ahead to 2020, we’re currently on track to get about 18% of our power from renewable sources like wind and solar energy. In the 2016 legislative session, we will want to accelerate that increase to a full 25% clean electricity standard by 2020, and put ourselves on track to double our commitment to 40% by 2025.
So how are we going to both renew Maryland’s premier carbon cap law and also take the steps necessary to achieve it? By engaging Marylanders across the state to get involved, make their voices heard, and demand that legislators and agency officials do right by our climate. There will be several ways to do that this summer:
- Participate in the Maryland Climate Commission Listening Sessions The Maryland Climate Commission, in which CCAN is heavily involved, is a broad stakeholder group charged with making recommendations about next steps for climate action in Maryland. This summer is your opportunity to tell this commission that you want to see Maryland continue to be a climate leader! It’s also your opportunity to further shape Maryland’s Climate Action Plan. This commission will be hosting listening sessions across the state to update residents on the progress the state has made towards greenhouse gas reductions, as well as to hear from local communities about ways that we can continue to address climate change in Maryland.
- Put your faith into action by joining Climate in the Pulpits/On the Bimah/In the Minbar! Following the Pope’s DC visit, CCAN and our partners at Interfaith Power & Light will be asking faith communities across Maryland to answer Pope Francis’ call to address climate change. Dozens of faith leaders and their communities will be dedicating their worship services to creation care the weekend of September 25-27th.
- Sign up to be part of CCAN’s advocacy committee! Throughout the region we are looking for passionate, dedicated volunteers who can help influence their legislators to act. You’ll receive the training and the tools you need to convince your leaders in Annapolis that in 2016, Maryland should renew its premier carbon cap law and takes the steps necessary to achieve that law, staving off the worst impacts of climate change and building a clean energy economy in our state.
No doubt about it, we have our work cut out for us this year. But the need to act has never been so great, and the opportunity to build a new, clean and healthy future for Maryland has never been so great!