ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced HoCo Climate Forward, the county’s first climate plan since 2015. This is the County’s first climate plan to add a focus on climate resiliency and environmental justice. Photos from the event can be found here.
The science and facts tell us that climate change is one of the most urgent challenges of our generation and that we are running out of time to act. There is no better time than right now to officially launch Howard County Climate Forward, our new and exciting Climate Action and Resiliency Plan. This plan sets a course for reaching a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2045. We will focus our efforts on four main areas to reach our goals: Energy, Transportation, Waste, and Nature-Based Solutions, which came about through extensive research. These efforts will reduce our Greenhouse Gas emissions and remove greenhouse gasses in the air by protecting forests and increasing native trees, plants, and healthy soils.
The HoCo Climate Forward plan will serve as a science-based and shovel ready workplan for every department and level for Howard County government. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon, the plan addresses resiliency and environmental justice. Some upcoming resiliency targets include making sure residents are prepared for emergencies, reducing heat islands, improving stormwater management to reduce flooding and enhancing ecosystems. The full plan can be found here
As the nation’s first county to earn LEED Platinum certification, under the current version, and with this award-winning Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, Howard County is already a leader on climate and sustainability. We will be a national model of climate-smart and resilient development.
Howard County is the first county in the nation to receive a LEED Platinum certification for the current version of the Cities and Communities from the U.S. Green Buildings Council. Additionally, 12 buildings have received energy upgrades, which have cut down our energy use. Four more projects are near completion in the solar power purchase agreement, which will ultimately power more than half of County government operations. To put that into context, it will be the equivalent of powering more than 2,000 homes and provide the emissions benefits of planting nearly 300,000 trees.
“If all 24 jurisdictions show the intentionality, take the proactive steps, and utilize the thoughtfulness that Howard County has, it will be less heavy of a lift. So I want to thank Howard County Executive Ball, you’ve done a great job,” said Paul Pinsky, Director of the Maryland Energy Administration.
The HoCo Climate Forward plan also establishes the Climate Subcabinet. Leaders from all County Departments will work together to ensure climate action and equity are incorporated into County planning and operations. The Subcabinet will also be required to facilitate transparent and frequent reporting on Climate Forward progress across all departments as well as to the public. The Subcabinet meetings are expected to begin in July.
“We know that at the state level it requires partnership with local government to be able to address the threat of climate change and we really look forward to continuing to work with our local partners, like Dr. Ball and the new Climate Subcabinet on the work that is going to be done to implement the HoCo Climate Forward Climate Action Plan,” said Maryland State Senate Delegation Chair Clarence Lam.