Our Environment

County Climate Action Plan [CAP]

Issue: Both Montgomery and the State of Maryland have each set ambitious goals and drafted plans for addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The key questions are how to achieve these goals, by when, and at what costs?


Actions:  The county’s goal is an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions [GGE] by 2027 and 100% by 2035. 

To achieve this goal, the County Executive established a working group of citizens and organizations to create a Climate Action Plan.  The Plan covers changes in:

  • Buildings
  • Transportation
  • Clean energy generation
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Adaptation
  • Governance
  • Public engagement

Latest Update

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Actions:  Last fall, the Maryland Department of the Environment [MDE] released a comprehensive, economy-wide draft plan for a 44% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.  According to MDE, the plan also will produce better air quality by reducing emissions that contribute to ground-level ozone and fine particle pollution. And it will improve water quality through reductions in nitrogen pollution to the state’s waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay.

In the Senate (SB926) and in the House the crossfiled bill (HB1425) would increase the greenhouse gas emissions reductions that the State must achieve by 2030; requiring the State to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

See also Senate Bill 414/House Bill 583, referred to as the “Climate Solutions Now” bill, which would also increase state greenhouse gas admissions and also address other environment related issues such as protections of fossil fuel workers.

Latest Update: The period for public comment on the state’s draft plan closed on April 21, 2020; staff have been finalizing the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act report to be submitted to Governor Hogan and the State Legislature.

The General Assembly is at an early stage; it is too early to determine which environmental bills will be enacted and how they will relate to the governor’s plan.

More information: 

information added 03/07/2021

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions-Global efforts

Issue: Are greenhouse gas emissions being reduced globally?

Latest Update: According to the 2020 UN Report on Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions, the answer is no. This link includes a link to the full text of the report and links to the reports of previous years.

Quoting from the report,

“As in previous years, this report assesses the gap between estimated future global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if countries implement their climate mitigation pledges and the global emission levels from least-cost pathways that are aligned with achieving the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. This difference between “where we are likely to be and where we need to be” is known as the ‘emissions gap’.

“Are we on track to bridging the gap? Absolutely not.”

More Information:

For somewhat more optimistic [but still realistic] opinion, see this op-ed piece by former Vice President Al Gore.

information added 01/03//2021

Solar Power in the Agricultural Reserve

Issue: To increase the use of renewable energy and decrease greenhouse gas emissions, the County Council is considering a zoning text amendment [ZTA20-01]to allow solar power panels to be built in the county’s Agricultural Reserve [Ag Res].  At issue is the environmental benefit that will come from increased solar power generation versus the potential harm to the Ag Res.

Background: There are strong opinions about this proposal on both sides of the issue. The County Council held a town hall meeting to hear from citizens and it formed a Farm Solar Stakeholder Workgroup consisting of representatives of the various stakeholder groups to assist the Council in its deliberations on the proposed ZTA.

Latest Update

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information added 02/06/2021

Other County Environmental Efforts

Plastic Straw Ban: The Montgomery County Council has approved a bill phasing out the use of plastic straws at local restaurants beginning in May 2021. For more information see this article from the Bethesda Beat, December 2020.

information updated 01/03/2021