Temperature change in Maryland since 1895
Click on the chart for more information.
Courtesy of Professor 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 the state'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 Marylanders and 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 and the progress report.
MDE submitted the comprehensive plan to the Governor 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 has set the most aggressive GHG emissions reduction goals in the nation. Under the Climate Solutions Now Act (CSNA) that passed into law in 2022, a new target has been established at 60% (over 2006 level) by 2031 and net-zero emissions by 2045. MDE currently is working on a conceptual road map due by the end of June 2023. The final plan is due at the end of the year.
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