During its 2015 session, the Maryland General Assembly codified the Maryland Commission on Climate Change into law, officially charging the Commission with advising the Governor and General Assembly "on ways to mitigate the causes of, prepare for, and adapt to the consequences of climate change." The MCCC is chaired by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Secretary or designee and consists of members representing state agencies and the legislature, local government, business, environmental non-profit organizations, organized labor, philanthropic interests, and the State University system.
In making its most recent recommendations to the state, the Commission conducted an extensive review of the science, including the influential conclusions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Commission recommended that the state's previous 40% Greenhouse Gas emissions reduction target by 2030 be adjusted to at least 50% to match the science and concluded that although a 50% target was ambitious, there were possible pathways to the goal if extremely extensive changes were made in state and federal policies. Changes that would clearly impact all citizens daily.
Under the Climate Solutions Now Act that passed into law in 2022, an even more ambitious target has been established at 60%. The Commission is now charged with developing proposals that allow the state to reach that target by 2031, and “net zero" by 2045. Since any proposals are likely to provide a cumulative, rather than immediate, impact on emissions, the changes will need to be implemented well before that deadline.
Under the new Act, the Commission must create several new reports and add four new working groups with an extensive list of required representatives to be appointed. The Commission currently has four working groups. A Greenhouse Gas Mitigation working group develops greenhouse gas reduction recommendations. The Adaptation and Response (Resilience) working group develops recommendations for dealing with the impacts of climate change. The Scientific and Technical working group follows the latest science to support the Commission's recommendations, and the Education, Communication and Outreach working group is the public affairs arm of the Commission.
Each of the four new working groups is required to have members of the Senate and House, cabinet level officers (or their designees) as well as numerous representatives of industry and environmental groups. Combined, the new working groups add 66 appointed positions to the 85 current positions on the pre-existing groups.
The Four new working groups the Climate Solutions Now Act added are:
(1) Just Transition Employment and Retraining
The largest of the new working groups, the Just Transition group, focuses on transitioning workers in fossil fuel industries to employment opportunities in a clean energy economy. Most of the members are from labor organizations or impacted industries.
(2) Energy Industry Revitalization
The Energy Industry Revitalization group will focus on the possible impacts to small businesses and potential facility closures as the result of climate change policies.
(3) Energy Resilience and Efficiency
The Energy Resilience group is primarily composed of representatives of electric energy companies and will focus on energy infrastructure improvements, transmission efficiency and battery backups.
(4) Solar Photovoltaic Systems Recovery, Reuse and Recycling Working Groups.
The Photovoltaic Systems working group will focus on options for recycling or reusing solar panels.
The Maryland Department of the Environment hosts the Commission meetings at least four times per year, with additional meetings called by the Chair as needed. Meetings are held virtually and a portion of each is set aside for public comment. Below are meeting materials. Check the Commission's calendar on the right for meeting times, dates, and links for Commission and working group meeting announcements.
Thanks to Michael Powell, Esq., co-chair of the Mitigation Working Group, for his assistance on this summary.