While there are many national climate change initiatives being drafted and discussed, change is also possible on a more local level. The Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021 was active in the Maryland General Assembly, but unfortunately died in mid-April. The compromised version of the bill that both the House and Senate could agree on would not have made a significant impact, and it’s important to the sponsors to go back to the drawing board. What did the bill include, and what might future legislation look like?
The Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021
The bill was very radical in its first presentation, as the Senate first proposed a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 to 2030. It also had rigorous green building standards that would require energy efficient public school buildings and alternative funding streams to help reach the aggressive emissions reduction goal. The bill also called for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the state by 2045.
While the legislation did not reach a compromise that was enacted, pieces of the bill were rolled over into new bills. The portion of the bill calling for 5 million tree plantings was added to a House bill that covers forest conservation, and pieces of the proposal also made it into a bill requiring the Maryland Transit Administration to purchase more zero-emissions buses.
What Will the Future Look Like?
It’s important to note that, while the bill itself did not get passed, portions of it did make it through the process and have been incorporated into other bills that are or will be signed into law. The Senate President Bill Ferguson indicated that legislators will be preparing a bigger, more robust package of climate change legislation to prepare for the 2022 legislative session that will include pieces of the bill that did not make it through this time.
Because the state was so progressive in lowering emissions and taking other radical steps to prevent climate change, there was no reason for the legislature to lower their sights and compromise. The climate is changing rapidly, and every state, including Maryland, needs to move as quickly as possible to institute changes. The state has made tremendous progress in decoupling economic growth from emissions growth, so continuing that momentum with the right legislation is critical.
For years, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has indicated that states with high emissions levels will need to cut emissions by 60% or more by 2030 and reach the net zero benchmark by 2045 to prevent irreversible change. The time to act on climate change is now, and the longer that states delay sweeping, radical legislation to tackle climate change, the more difficult it will be to meet our goals.