Maryland agencies must submit a plan to help fight climate change, governor says

State agencies in Maryland will be required to submit a plan to help address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, under an executive order signed by Gov. Wes Moore on Tuesday.

The plan calls for all state agencies to submit a report to the governor by Nov. 1 showing how they will help the state meet its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2031 to 60% of 2006 levels, the governor said at a news conference in Baltimore. The report must include steps and a timeline for implementation for all required actions within each agency’s purview. But the governor’s office did not specify what those actions would be.

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“These proposals must be submitted by every single state agency, because every single state agency is going to have a role to play and is going to have accountability measures that we must meet,” Moore, a Democrat, said before signing the order at the Henderson-Hopkins School in Baltimore.

The Moore administration also aims to achieve 100% clean energy by 2035 and reach net-zero emissions by 2045. That means at least as much carbon would be removed from the atmosphere as what is being emitted.

The order signed Tuesday also directs the Maryland Department of the Environment to propose new polices to reduce emissions from buildings, a provision applauded by environmental advocates.

“To meet its climate goals, Maryland must tackle fossil fuel use in buildings, which represents 13% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Anne Havemann, general counsel for the nonprofit organization Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said in a statement. “We’re proud to see Governor Moore take a massive step toward this goal through today’s executive order, which will gradually reduce this climate pollution from buildings and send a signal to manufacturers, retailers, and installers to prepare for an increased demand in clean technologies such as heat pumps.”

The governor said the Maryland Department of the Environment will be the “nerve center” for the state’s approach to climate change. The order also creates a new subcabinet on climate change, which will be led by the department’s chief, Serena McIlwain.

The subcabinet will be required to report on Maryland’s progress by Dec. 1 and annually thereafter.

“We are creating a clean environment and a strong economy together, and I know that we can all do it because all of us who are here today are dedicated, and we’re all going to see it through,” McIlwain said.

The order also notes that the state’s efforts will include a focus on environmental justice.

“To be clear, climate justice is economic justice, if you’re doing it right, and we are going to craft policies that actually reflects that mindset,” Moore said.

Kim Coble, co-chair of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, praised the governor for taking a comprehensive step toward reaching the state’s goals.

“The governor is calling on his administration and every state agency to plan and measure and act,” Coble said. “And, equally important, the executive order creates an accountability system for those actions by creating the first-ever climate subcabinet, and an annual report on implementation of those actions by the state agencies.”

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