Warming Stripes by Ed Hawkins, University of Reading
The main cause of climate change is human activities, particularly the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. The Maryland Department of the Environment's (MDE) Climate Change Program is leading Governor Hogan's efforts to reduce GHG emissions while creating jobs and benefiting the economy, as required by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA). Although many initiatives throughout the State contribute to these efforts, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the Commission on Climate Change are key efforts by MDE, each of which can be explored further by following the navigational links on top, left-hand side of this page.
In November 2018, a federal report advised that "climate change is affecting the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, and human health and welfare across the U.S. and its territories." The good news is that in Maryland, we have an action plan to combat it.
With 3,100 miles of shoreline, Maryland is the fourth most vulnerable state to suffer the effects of sea-level rise associated with climate change. Rising sea levels and increased storm intensity could have devastating and far-reaching impacts on the Atlantic coast and the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem that affect the environmental, recreational, and economic benefits enjoyed by Maryland and her visitors. Although Maryland's coastal areas may be considered particularly vulnerable, all areas of the State are at risk. In general, climate change alters the severity, frequency, or distribution of existing issues that are impacted either directly or indirectly by temperature and precipitation. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Impacts on coastal, bay, and inland water quality parameters that may change the viable uses of surface water, such as for irrigation, recreation, or human consumption. MDE's Water and Science Administration's Climate Adaptation Goals and Strategies are available here.
- More frequent disruptions to urban and coastal infrastructure in Maryland caused by extreme weather events and sea-level rise that may indirectly impact the economy of the region by restricting the flow of goods and affecting days worked;
- Common stressors experienced among ecosystems, agriculture, fisheries, and forestry such as those caused by general changes in temperature and precipitation regimes; increased extreme weather events; and increased pressures from weeds, diseases, and pests;
- Human health issues, including those affected by impacts on food and water supply, air quality, and extreme weather events; and
- A higher probability of negative outcomes for disadvantaged communities and individuals inherently more sensitive or with a reduced adaptive capacity for responding to the impacts of climate change.
To learn more about climate change and what Maryland is doing to combat it,
read the 2030 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan.
MDE submitted the comprehensive plan for Maryland to Governor Hogan and the State Legislature on February 19, 2020, to coincide with the U.S.A's return to the Paris Climate Agreement. For the national perspective, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Climate Change in the United States.
And, for the international perspective, read the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's
(IPCC) latest report .
Maryland's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act (GGRA)
Maryland adopted the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act (GGRA) and it was amended in 2016. The law requires the State to reduce GHG emissions by 25 percent from a 2006 baseline by 2020, in a way that ensures a positive impact on Maryland's economy, protects existing manufacturing jobs, and creates new jobs in the State. MDE's 2015 GGRA Plan update showed that Maryland was on target to not only meet but also to exceed this level of emissions reduction in tandem with a healthy economic benefit.
Governor Hogan signed an updated version of the law, which includes the same balanced requirements and safeguards as the original, such as additional reporting and a mid-course reaffirmation of goals by the Maryland General Assembly, as well as incorporating protection for jobs and the economy. The most significant enhancement was a new benchmark requiring a 40 percent reduction of emissions from 2006 levels by 2030. This additional benchmark was included in order to ensure continued progress after 2020 toward the State's long-term GHG emission reduction goals.
According to a World Resources Institute report published in August 2020, Maryland leads the nation in the amount of emissions reductions (38%) and simultaneous growth of GDP (18%) in a 12 year period.
In the fall of 2019, MDE released a comprehensive, economy-wide draft plan to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. After more than a year of analysis using the latest science, and listening to Marylanders and stakeholders, the final plan was published. Its 100+ bold and comprehensive programs and measures set Maryland on an ambitious path to serve as a model for how the nation can respond to climate change while also supporting economic growth and adding new jobs. The plan focuses on the need to better serve disadvantaged communities throughout our state where climate change disproportionately impacts them.
MDE Climate Change Program Deputy Manager