Promise to Progress: How Maryland will Lead the Fight Against Climate Change
11/8/2021 | John B. King
Climate change is an existential threat to humanity. I am frightened for my young daughters’ futures and I am sure many readers feel the same way. We no longer have the time to be complacent or think about the climate crisis as some far-off issue for our children and grandchildren to solve.
With the federal government cutting climate out of the Build Back Better agenda, it has never been more important for states as uniquely positioned as Maryland to be a leader in the larger fight against climate change. We have abundant renewable resources, from wind to solar to geothermal, and we have the capital and infrastructure to make real change as we move towards de-carbonization. It is our responsibility to show the rest of the country that bold climate action is not just possible — but that it is enormously beneficial to our economy and wellbeing.
I’m running for Governor to take the promise of a sustainable, livable future and turn it into the progress we so desperately need.
Throughout my campaign for Governor of Maryland, I have been incredibly specific about my policy goals for our state. I want to be able to actually accomplish what I campaign on — the best way to achieve that is by being clear about my objectives and establishing a real mandate for action once I am elected.
Nowhere is the need to outline specific goals more essential than in the fight against climate change. Temperatures in Baltimore hit 90 degrees nearly twice as often as they did a century ago, extreme flash flooding in Ellicott City has devastated businesses and claimed lives, and people are currently losing their homes and precious farmland due to sea level rise in the Chesapeake Bay. Climate change is here, and it is already taking its toll on Maryland. That’s why I’m laying out an ambitious plan with achievable targets and a transparent roadmap of how we get there.
The cornerstone of my plan to fight climate change here in Maryland is my commitment to hitting net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. That is an aggressive goal, and would make Maryland the pace-setter for hitting net-zero emissions for the entire country. Accomplishing this will require ambitious change to large sections of the economy, but we can do it in concert with creating good-paying union jobs and building wealth for Marylanders in every corner of our state.
The transportation sector emits the most greenhouse gasses in Maryland, accounting for nearly 40% of our statewide emissions. There are many levers my administration will use to curb this including: building rail transit across the state; achieving 100% clean transportation for public vehicles, including school buses; and committing to transitioning over half of all Maryland cars and trucks to zero-emission vehicles by 2030. Additionally, we will eliminate the 30% of our emissions generated by electricity by 2030 by replacing fossil fuels with new, clean technologies like offshore wind, solar, and geothermal; and support a statewide transition to clean technology for homes and commercial buildings while also committing to achieve 100% clean energy use in all Maryland public buildings by 2030.
There are far too many, predominantly Black, communities across Maryland that have faced devastating effects from existing environmental injustice. One of the most glaring examples is in Baltimore City, where most of the city’s trash is burned in a majority Black neighborhood. Between Baltimore’s lower-income, mostly Black neighborhoods and its wealthier, whiter ones there is a 20-year-gap in life expectancy. This disparity permeates across the state. To combat this, we will make sure stakeholders from front line and fence line communities historically affected by pollution have a central role in decision-making, tighten our environmental regulations to protect our air and water across the state, and crack down on polluters — especially serial offenders.
You can find the full, detailed plan I have laid out to fight climate change and environmental injustice in Maryland at johnkingforgovernor.com/issue/climate.
As a lifelong teacher and educator, I have seen the powerful role that intersecting systems play in shaping our lives. If one of my students didn’t have reliable housing or food on the table every night, they suffered in every other part of their lives. Climate change will affect every aspect of our existence, from finding a safe place to live, to feeding our families. We have a chance to fight back and turn this crisis into a generational opportunity, but we need to take action now to turn the promise of a better future into the progress our children deserve.
As I campaign for governor and speak with Marylanders across our state who are concerned about the accelerating climate crisis, I hear one question over and over: “What can one state do?”
The answer is simple — Maryland can lead.