The following are priorities and actions, a roadmap for Maryland, to effectively address the challenges of climate change:
Aspire to make Maryland carbon neutral within a generation. Carbon neutral means no net addition of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The sooner we can achieve this aspirational goal, the less damages we will experience in the future. Help from everyone in our state is needed to ensure success, especially our elected leaders, but also ordinary citizens and businesses. Maryland's government should immediately commit to legislation to cut greenhouse gases by 50 % by 2030 and make the state carbon neutral by 2045. A number of states, including California and Hawaii, have passed similar legislation. Maryland's legislature must do the same as soon as possible, with Governor Hogan's support.
Replace our fossil fuel power generation with renewable wind and solar power. Maryland must begin to replace its coal-fired plants immediately with renewable wind and solar power. The state should move quickly to develop off-shore wind power capability, like Massachusetts, and expand commercial solar photovoltaic capability like New Jersey and North Carolina. On-shore wind and rooftop residential and government and commercial solar installations should be expanded. Maryland should be among the leaders within the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
Support more efficient transportation systems. Maryland should accelerate transition to electric vehicles and mass-transit by expanding its commitment to low-carbon transportation solutions. Tax credits should be extended immediately to all high mileage vehicles, including hybrids. Electric vehicle charging infrastructure should be incentivized not just in homes, but also at gas stations, garages, and workplaces to facilitate transition away from gasoline and diesel powered vehicles. Maryland should expand state investments in light rails and subways and participate vigorously in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI).
Invest in efficient buildings and communities, and encourage research. Maryland must make our state a more competitive place to live and work, by promoting the development of energy efficient buildings and communities. New construction should include smart, efficient materials, renewable energy sources and electric vehicle chargers, and mandate these like in California. Maryland's world-class research enterprise must be encouraged to find new technical solutions to climate change problems, including smart grids, improved energy storage, expanded liquid biofuels, and therapeutics and vaccines against relevant diseases.
Improve public health and expand carbon capture. Maryland must develop effective plans to respond to the adverse public health consequences of climate change, including managing extreme weather events such as in expanding flood zones, and health concerns from increased temperatures, ozone, asthma, allergies, and infectious tropical diseases. Maryland must prioritize plans for management of low-lying lands and vulnerable communities, e.g. those near the Chesapeake Bay, which are likely to suffer the worst effects of flooding and storms. The state must also improve management of agricultural and forest lands, to increase their capacity for carbon capture, in order to improve our air and water quality, and promote better health.
Put a price on carbon emissions and incentivize our citizens and businesses. Maryland should expand its existing programs to cap carbon emissions and shrink our carbon footprint faster. The current targets are inadequate to avoid the worst damages from climate change during the 21st century, and a more aggressive timeline for action is needed. In order to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality, Maryland should immediately pass phased carbon pricing legislation that is revenue neutral. Utilities should be mandated to increase their commitment to renewable energy at a faster rate and the state should incentivize fuel efficient cars, trucks and appliances, and less wasteful lifestyles for our citizens.