Maryland has one of the more aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals in the country – that is, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 using a 2006 base line, Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles noted on Oct. 9.
Speaking during the Maryland Clean Energy Center’s 2018 Maryland Clean Energy Summit held in College Park, Md., Grumbles said: “We know we need to keep pushing and moving farther and harder. There’s another goal of 80% reduction by 2050 – that’s going to require some game changers [and] that’s going to involve new partnerships to help electrify the transportation sector.”
He also noted that the Maryland Commission on Climate Change – which he said is highly motivated, functioning, diverse, and bipartisan – is being used as a model for other states.
According to the department’s website, the commission was established in 2007 by Executive Order and charged with developing an action plan and firm timetable for mitigation of, and adaptation to, the likely consequences and impacts of climate change in Maryland, including strategies to reduce Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Work is ongoing to “develop a draft plan by the end of this year to ensure that we not only stay on track with our 25 by 20 goal, but that we are right on course of meeting our 40 by 30 goal, and looking for those game changers in the clean energy sector [so] that we continue to be a national leader,” Grumbles said.
The plan would be submitted to the state Legislature and sent to the governor by the end of next year, he said.
Along with local, statewide, bipartisan, and science-based leadership, regional leadership is also key in order to make progress on such environmental goals, Grumbles said, noting that he is chair of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
As noted in an August 2017 RGGI statement, the nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states participating in RGGI announced consensus on a set of draft program elements that will guide the RGGI states as they conduct final economic analysis and establish a post-2020 path forward for the program. The RGGI states proposed a regional cap trajectory that will provide an additional 30% cap reduction by 2030, relative to 2020 levels, the statement noted.
RGGI, in a December 2017 statement, noted that the states released an updated 2017 Model Rule that as Jared Snyder, vice-chair of the RGGI, Inc., Board of Directors and deputy commissioner at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said in that statement, “reflect the consensus announced in August” 2017.
Grumbles on Oct. 9 said that another major collaborative effort for Maryland involves working with other states through the U.S. Climate Alliance, which, as noted on its website, is a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“Maryland is a very active partner in that,” Grumbles said. “On behalf of the governor, I was at the Global Climate Action Summit Sept. 12 and 13 in San Francisco, and we announced that our state would be phasing out the … use of hydrofluorocarbons [(HFCs)], which is a fast-acting super pollutant.”
As noted in a Sept. 11 Maryland Department of the Environment statement, under a federal Clean Air Act program designed to identify and evaluate alternatives to stratospheric ozone-depleting substances, HFCs have been one of the most common alternatives. However, HFCs are extremely potent greenhouse gases, the statement noted, adding that one pound of one type of HFC is as potent as much as 1,400 pounds of carbon dioxide.
After efforts have stalled at the federal level, states have begun their own phase out initiatives, according to the statement, which also noted that the department intends to develop regulations similar to those in development in California, which would phase out the use of certain HFCs in foam products and in refrigeration equipment in retail establishments, such as supermarkets. The phase out of HFCs will encourage the use of substances with lower greenhouse gas emissions, the statement noted, adding that products with alternatives to HFCs are already available, and that other states in the U.S. Climate Alliance are expected to take similar steps.
Among other things, Grumbles discussed the Maryland Green Registry, encouraging businesses and institutions to look into the registry, which, as noted on the department’s website, “is a free, voluntary program offering tips and resources to help businesses and other organizations set and meet their own goals on the path to sustainability.”
Grumbles also said that it is important that the country does not “roll back strong environmental standards,” adding that “our state, the governor, is working very hard to make sure that … the nation has stronger greenhouse gas reduction goals – as strong as RGGI, has been our position. Don’t put in a replacement unless it’s as enforceable and as effective as” RGGI.