Chesapeake PSR

Baltimore adopts strong climate resolution

Climate Change and EnergyTimothy WhitehouseComment

The Baltimore City Council unanimously passed a sweeping climate resolution opposing “the ill-advised decision” by the United States to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and committing the city to far-reaching changes in energy production and consumption, transportation practices and local food production.

Council Member Zeke Cohen, the Maryland Environmental Health Network, and many other partners collaborated on the resolution. The resolution pledges to uphold practices that foster, “a livable, economical, equitable and just energy future for all Baltimoreans regardless of age, race, income or zip code.”

Some of the important pledges in the resolution that show its visionary scope include:

  • WHEREAS, household energy is unaffordable for tens of thousands of Baltimoreans resulting in impossible choices of paying for food, medicines, rent or energy bills.
  • WHEREAS, the impacts of energy choice in favor of fossil fuels disproportionately stacks burdens on people of color and those with limited English proficiency and low-income communities whether they are in the cities, suburbs or exurbs.
  • WHEREAS, climate change impacts are felt first and worst by vulnerable populations which exacerbates inequity, we reject treating people and the planet as resources to be exploited.
  • WHEREAS, Baltimore is particularly sensitive to all of the above because of its reliance on the business of dirty energy. In 2015, a single Baltimore trash incinerator emitted 764,895 tons of carbon dioxide, the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions in the city by far.
  • WHEREAS, the existence of food deserts in Baltimore is a loss of freedom to choose foodstuffs that are healthful, local or low-emission which increases environmental health injustice in Baltimore.
  • WHEREAS, urban agriculture increases resilience by enhancing the availability of healthful food and offers the benefit of carbon storage in the soil.

The resolution continues that, “in order to assume a leadership role in national and international efforts to mitigate and roll back damage to our environment in the wake of the decision to leave the Paris Accord,” Baltimore supports 17 specific policies and actions. These include:

  • Baltimore will strive for a 100 percent clean, renewable electricity supply by the year 2050.
  • Baltimore will develop aggressive policies and regulations that increase residential conservation and energy efficiency measures regardless of the status of residents as renters, owners or operators.
  • Baltimore will strive to disincentivize energy generation from incineration technologies, a source of greenhouse gases, and mitigate health harms associated with pollution from combustion.
  • Baltimore will work to develop and implement a comprehensive municipal food scrap and yard waste door-to-door composting collection policy.
  • Baltimore will work with other local governments, non-governmental organizations, faith communities and others to promote the adoption of an energy affordability plan by the State of Maryland.
  • Baltimore will promote energy efficiency and conservation and related technologies including solar, hot water, air or ground-source heat pumps, and will encourage industrial non-combustion alternatives where possible.
  • Baltimore will prioritize funding of sustainable land use decisions including community land trusts, increased tree canopy programs and community greenspace.

This is an exciting policy shift by the city. The long-term and broad nature of the resolution, however, will require sustained support by individuals and groups to ensure that that the city is successful in achieving these goals.

The resolution can be viewed here.

• • •