CCAN applauds plan as critical example of climate leadership as our planet passes the carbon pollution danger zone of 400 parts per million
BALTIMORE—Governor Martin O’Malley released today a far-reaching plan to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland by 25 percent by 2020. The plan will create an estimated $1.6 billion in economic benefits and create over 37,000 jobs. The plan surpasses California and all states except Massachusetts in its goals, while incorporating carbon reduction and clean energy policies that experts believe are credible and achievable. Today’s release positions Maryland as a national leader in facing the climate change crisis head-on.
“A problem of this magnitude requires tough choices and bold leadership,” said Maryland Senator Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s County), sponsor of the 2009 landmark Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act. “Not only is it dangerous and foolhardy to ignore this looming threat, but acting now to mitigate the future damage from climate change can also enrich our state in numerous ways. Today’s plan offers the right mix of policy solutions that will both reduce the dangerous greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming while offering the maximum economic benefits for Maryland.”
“In the face of virtually unrecognizable weather and rapidly rising seas, Governor O’Malley is stepping up to lead,” said Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “The Governor’s plan is an example that other states should follow, given the intensifying impacts of climate change and the unacceptably slow response on Capitol Hill.”
Notable tenets of the state’s greenhouse gas reduction strategy include:
- Raising the state’s renewable energy goals so that Maryland gets 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
- Reforming the state’s “EmPOWER” program to give Maryland one of the most efficient energy sectors in the country.
- Reusing, recycling, composting and saving our way to Zero Waste, including an 85 percent reduction in generation of solid waste by 2030.
- Strengthening the nation’s first mandatory cap-and-trade program, the regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI), to lower the cap on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 2.5 percent annually starting in 2015.
- Recognizing that hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for gas is a significant greenhouse gas emitter, and emphasizing a transition toward truly clean sources of energy instead.
- Investing in Maryland’s green economy now to encourage smarter investments and support more sustainable economic growth for generations to come.
Maryland, with more than 3,000 miles of tidal shoreline, is one the most vulnerable states to climate change and sea-level rise.
The plan’s release is the second of two historic steps that Governor O’Malley has taken this year to advance solutions to climate change and avert its worst impacts. In April, he signed a landmark bill into law to spur the development of wind power off Maryland’s shores.
O’Malley is the first governor to release a comprehensive climate action plan since global carbon dioxide levels passed the 400 parts per million (ppm) mark in May, a level unseen for three million years and far above the 350ppm threshold that scientists say is a safe upper limit.
The Governor’s plan implements the Maryland Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, which includes the most aggressive goal for reducing heat-trapping emissions passed by any state legislature in the nation. Only one other state, Massachusetts, has released a plan to achieve larger cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and those reduction targets were selected by the executive branch rather than set through a legislative mandate. It is now up to Maryland state agencies and the General Assembly to respond to the plan with actions and resources necessary to make the vision a reality.
“It’s clear that Governor O’Malley gets it—the time for action to avert a climate catastrophe is now,” said Tidwell. “The latest polling shows that Marylanders get it, too. An overwhelming majority, more than three-quarters, want their state government to act on climate change. And, while the main goal of this plan is to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the impacts of climate change, we can expect to see many more economic, public health, and environmental benefits along the way.”
View and download a copy of the Maryland Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan at: http://climatechange.maryland.gov/publications/greenhouse-gas-emissions-reduction-act-plan/
Kelly Trout, 240-396-2022, email@example.com
Mike Tidwell, 240-460-5838, firstname.lastname@example.org