Maryland Climate Partners recommend credible environmental goalposts for state

By Sophie Foster

Opinion Editor

Nearing the end of 2023, Maryland is approaching the halfway point of its overarching climate goal of net-zero emissions by 2045.

Maryland’s Climate Pathway, a plan released in June, articulated to the state’s general public an intent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 60% by 2031 on the way to a net-zero economy by 2045. The plan includes endeavors for improved health and economic realities for Marylanders, addressing air quality, employment opportunities, and household savings.

According to the plan, “[t]he first step is fully implementing the policies already in place in Maryland. As of 2020, Maryland had already achieved half of the reductions needed . . . to meet the 2031 target.”

The plan claims that the state of Maryland has “a bold and ambitious vision for its future” that includes “thriving communities,” “a clean and vibrant economy,” and “enhanced health.”

Whether or not these intentions are sincere and possible is a challenging question to approach, in part because of the plan’s relative passivity in response to a crisis deserving of aggressive response.

According to Maryland Matters, Maryland Climate Partners, “a group of environmentalists, community organizations and other advocates[, released] a climate proposal of its own in an effort to get the state to move even more aggressively.”

Formed in 2021 as a lobbyist group to push the General Assembly on the Climate Solutions Now Act, Maryland Climate Partners came to the table on Oct. 15 with recommendations for improved methodology in achieving the state’s climate ambitions.

According to the partners’ plan, their recommendations cover “transportation, energy and electricity, buildings, natural resources, and waste[,] along with overarching themes relating to equity, revenue, and monitoring and evaluation.”

Maryland Climate Partners are encouraging the state to “[m]eaningfully engage underserved, overburdened, and communities disproportionately impacted by climate change and increase their representation in decision making” in the public-good-oriented plan.

This notion is exceedingly valuable, and is one that, while gently implied in Maryland’s Climate Pathway, deserves a specific stance with quantifiable goals to be met by the state for vulnerable Marylanders amid the climate crisis. Almost no crisis is quite as uniquely intersectional.

Perhaps the most prominent example of this overlap is Governor Wes Moore’s process of reinvigorating the state’s approach to accessible public transit. According to previous Elm coverage, the Baltimore redline project will ideally deliver critical attentivity to “low-income population[s], unemployment, lack of access to quality education, food deserts, and environmental concerns.”

The partners amplify concepts such as this, further emphasizing their conviction that the state owes its populace devotion to causes of social betterment adjacent to its climate pledges.

Additional aspects of the recommendations presented include the recruitment and training of a clean energy workforce, building a decarbonization market, assessing fees on polluters like oil companies, responding firmly to waste practices, and, broadly, building in accountability framework.

In summation, according to the recommendations, the “focus [is] on new policies as well as steps necessary to ensure full implementation of existing policies.”

This focus is crucial to effectively approaching the climate crisis on the state level with intention and necessary aggression. Especially as we near the 2024 election season, Marylanders should continue to apply pressure to their elected officials as they consider climate approaches.

Now is not the time for soft policies and empty promises; it is the time for meaningful change.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo caption: Maryland’s inability to adequately address the climate crisis will likely have disastrous implications for the state.

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