MARYLAND: First State to Join DoE’s Better Climate Challenge

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland, March 5, 2022 (ENS) – Ben Grumbles, Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, attended the kickoff meeting of the Better Climate Challenge last Monday. He was representing Maryland, the only state to join the federal Department of Energy, DoE, Challenge to date, although more than 90 partners have joined the Challenge already, including major corporations and local governments.

“Our administration continues to set an example by identifying energy efficiency opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our state buildings,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican. “Maryland has one of the nation’s most comprehensive, detailed, and balanced plans to address and mitigate climate change, and this partnership only strengthens our efforts.”

“Our commitment to climate progress in the built environment means robust partnerships to shrink greenhouse gas emissions, while growing the economy and strengthening community resilience,” said Secretary Grumbles.

Ben Grumbles, Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment, rides his bike to work. May 21, 2021 (Photo courtesy MD Environment via Twitter)

On February 28, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, and White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy hosted an opening roundtable with Better Climate Challenge partners to highlight their commitment to curbing emissions and sharing best practices.

The three Biden Administration officials were joined by current Better Climate Challenge partners, who represent local governments; commercial, industrial, and multifamily buildings; and higher education, and Grumbles, representing the State of Maryland.

The Better Climate Challenge is a national public-private partnership of organizations that have set goals to achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10 years without the use of offsets.

Partner organizations will share solutions. The Department of Energy will provide technical assistance and convene peer-to-peer exchanges to facilitate sharing os solutions across their facilities and fleets.

Inaugural partners in the Better Climate Challenge include IKEA Retail U.S., Hilton, Harley-Davidson, the Cleveland Clinic, the University of Virginia, University of Chicago, Colorado State University, and the State of Maryland.

“Companies across America are joining arms to lead the zero-carbon transition through smart, strategic climate solutions that slash building and factory emissions and significantly cut costs,” said Energy Secretary Granholm.

“With the help of DOE, the meaningful and measurable emissions reductions of the Better Climate Challenge will save American businesses billions of dollars, create good-paying jobs, and drive innovation that strengthens the entire U.S. economy,” Granholm said.

By taking on this goal for their buildings and factories, partners in the Better Climate Challenge are helping the United States meet its economy-wide goal of a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

If all organizations in the U.S. commercial, public, and industrial sectors reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent, it would save nearly 1.5 billion metric tons of CO2e annually, more than the emissions from every home in the country, according to the Energy Department.

“The Challenge is not just about cutting carbon pollution but about supporting communities that all too often bear the brunt of climate change while seeing too few of the benefits from the energy transition,” said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Fudge.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to deliver climate justice to disadvantaged communities, lower energy expenses in affordable housing, and accelerate mitigation efforts to protect at-risk communities from natural disasters and the impacts of climate change,” Fudge said.

“That is why I’m pleased that of the organizations stepping up to this challenge, seven are public housing and multifamily partners, representing a bright future for more than 40,000 families. We are delighted to partner with DOE on this initiative and look forward to our continued work together.”

White House Climate Advisor McCarthy, a former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Obama Administration, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Better Climate Challenge.

“The bold climate goals of the Better Climate Challenge will foster cutting-edge innovation and help American businesses decarbonize a crucial sector while they reap the benefits of investing in cleaner and cheaper energy,” said McCarthy.

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire was encouraging. “Combating the climate crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, including innovation in the public-private sector to substantially reduce our nation’s carbon footprint. I applaud the organizations participating in the Better Climate Challenge to shrink harmful carbon emissions by 50 percent over the next decade. Embracing energy efficiency and shifting towards clean energy not only creates jobs and bolsters our economy, but also builds a more sustainable future in the Granite State and around the country.”

Public-private partnerships like the Better Climate Challenge are key to reaching President Joe Biden’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050 through an equitable clean energy transition.

Featured image: Solar photovoltaic panels in Charles County, Maryland. undated (Photo courtesy Charles County Economic Development Department)

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