Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich this week unveiled the Climate Action Plan that will guide the County toward its goals of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent by 2027 and by 100 percent by 2035 compared to 2005 levels. The Montgomery climate plan, which will increase resilience in the face of climate hazards, is one of the most ambitious climate plans in the nation for a local government.
County Executive Elrich outlined the plan, which includes 86 climate actions, at the Marian Fryer Town Plaza across from the new 14-story Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission headquarters building in Wheaton. The building, located at 2425 Reedie Dr., was built by the Montgomery County Government and has received LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED Platinum certification is the highest level in sustainable design that USGBC awards in objectively measuring a building’s sustainability. The 308,000-square-foot building is the first County Government facility to receive a LEED Platinum rating.
The ceremonies were joined by County Council President Tom Hucker, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer and County Climate Change Coordinator Adriana Hochberg and members of the community including Omotola Fadeyi, Denisse Guitarra, Karen Metchis and Samuel Suraphel.
The actions and technical analyses presented in the plan build upon the work of more than 200 volunteer members of the Climate Technical Workgroups formed by the County Executive, County employees and technical consultants. The plan reflects input from a wide variety of community groups and the general public.
“The urgency of climate change inspires Montgomery County to serve as a model for other jurisdictions,” said County Executive Elrich. “Combatting climate change provides an opportunity to build a healthy, equitable and resilient community. There is no magic wand to accomplish this monumental task. We must take big, bold steps—and many of them. Collectively, communities across the State of Maryland, the country and the world must tackle climate action at the scale that is necessary to curb the cataclysmic social, environmental and economic impacts of climate change.”
The development of the Climate Action Plan was spurred by the County Council’s Emergency Climate Mobilization Resolution in December 2017 that accelerated the County’s communitywide GHG emission reduction goals after they were established in 2007. The resolution recognized the existential threat that climate change poses and called for the County to take a leadership role in strategies to safeguard the planet.
The details of the plan can be found at www.MontgomeryCountyMD.gov/climate.
In addition to releasing the Climate Action Plan, County Executive Elrich also released the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Climate Work Plan. The Climate Work Plan describes actions the County plans to make progress on during FY22. The County anticipates action on 75 of 86 recommendations in the Climate Action Plan in FY22.
Throughout the summer and into the early fall, the County’s climate team plans to host community conversations to present the plan to residents, businesses and property owners.
The main elements of the Climate Action Plan include:
- Reduce Emissions in the Energy, Buildings and Transportation sectors. The plan recommends actions that include increasing the use of and investment in clean, reliable and affordable energy; implementing code requirements related to energy efficiency, solar installations and net-zero standards and building energy performance standards for existing buildings; expanding public transit service, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure and a shared micro-mobility network; and supporting community-wide adoption of electric vehicles.
- Center Racial Equity and Social Justice. The plan considers the racial equity and social justice implications of each climate action through the identification of equity-enhancing measures. The plan also assesses impacts on communities most vulnerable to climate hazards.
- Address Residual Emissions and Carbon Sequestration. The plan identifies nature-based carbon sequestration actions including retaining, managing and expanding forests, wetlands, grasslands and urban tree canopy. It also seeks to increase carbon in soils through improved agricultural practices.
- Reduce Climate Risk. This will be achieved through actions that enhance the resilience of the community and infrastucture assets, including repairing and upgrading stormwater drainage and management systems; updating green streetscape and green infrastructure standards; hardening emergency shelters and installing resilience hubs; and updating floodplain maps.
- Identify Ways to Pay for Climate Action. Implementing the actions in the plan calls for commitment from the public and private sectors while leveraging local, State and Federal government resources. It will be critical to mitigate the cost impacts to low-and moderate-income residents in particular to ensure that the most vulnerable residents are not adversely impacted.
- Enhance Climate Governance. This will be accomplished through actions that institutionalize climate change considerations within Montgomery County Government processes and decision making; measure and report on progress; and foster creativity, collaboration and innovation to implement climate solutions.
- Engage the Community as Partners in Climate Action. Residents will be involved in the implementation of the plan through a climate communications coalition; a Community Justice Academy in which community ambassadors work with neighbors and the County to co-create community-based solutions; and enhanced partnerships with municipalities. The plan increases opportunities for climate change education in the public school system and calls for a statewide coalition of local governments and youth groups focused on advancing ambitious State climate policy.