Take Action! Fight Climate Change
From raw sewage backing up into peoples’ basements to the urban heat island effect exacerbating hot temperatures, climate change poses significant risks to Baltimore’s communities, waterways, and environment. And the effects of climate change are not felt equally. As a result of systemic disinvestment, Black and brown communities are more vulnerable to climate impacts than white communities.
The Baltimore City Council is considering a package of bills to help mitigate some of the worst effects of climate change and move the City toward a more sustainable future. Read more about these bills below and take action in support of these efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions locally.
What’s in the City Council’s Climate Package?
In October 2021, Councilman Mark Conway (D4) introduced four bills as a ‘climate package’ that address different sources of greenhouse gas emissions and bring Baltimore in line with other cities that are working to reduce their emissions. Three out of the four bills in the climate package have hearings scheduled for January 2022:
January 13th: Building Code – Cool Roofs (Ordinance 21-0160) is scheduled for a hearing in the Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee at 2pm. You can join online here.
This bill will help reduce the urban heat island effect by requiring ‘cool roofs’ on new buildings and additions to existing buildings. Reflective, solar, and green roofs are all types of cool roofs encouraged under the bill that help to reduce temperatures, increase renewable energy generation, lower energy bills, and reduce stormwater runoff from the tops of buildings.
January 18th: Procurement – Zero-Emission Vehicles (Ordinance 21-0159) is scheduled for a hearing in the Ways and Means Committee at 10am. You can join online here.
This bill will require half of the City’s fleet of vehicles to be zero-emission by 2030 and the rest of the fleet to be zero-emission by 2040, bringing the City in line with Maryland’s plan to have a fully electric state fleet by 2040. Leveraging purchasing power is an important tool for cities to take action on climate change, and this bill is an example of how integrating a climate lens into procurement practices can help reduce emissions from government operations.
January 19th: Global Warming Solutions – Carbon Neutral City (Resolution 21-0075R) is scheduled for a hearing in the Health, Environment, and Technology Committee at 10am. You can join online here.
This resolution calls on Baltimore City to become carbon-neutral by 2050, explains the City’s greenhouse gas emissions (the vast majority come from buildings), and also emphasizes how climate change exacerbates existing inequities. While it is non-binding, this resolution will help spur important conversations about the challenges and opportunities associated with moving Baltimore to net zero by 2050.
The final bill in the package is Ordinance 21-0161 requiring City government operations to be net-zero by 2050. If passed, this bill would codify some of the goals outlined in the Global Warming Solutions resolution and ensure that City operations set an example of how to move toward net zero emissions. A hearing for this bill has not yet been scheduled.
Why do these bills matter?
Climate change is here. In 2021, Baltimore experienced over 50 days with temperatures above 90 degrees. And by 2080, Baltimore’s climate is projected to resemble that of Cleveland, Mississippi, a town that is 9.1°F warmer than Baltimore. These effects are not equally distributed – formerly redlined neighborhoods have the least amount of trees and green space and are therefore the hottest neighborhoods in Baltimore. For example, Broadway East has six times less tree canopy than Roland Park, which can lead to significant temperature differences between the two neighborhoods.
It’s also getting wetter. Precipitation in Maryland has increased by 2.63 inches per decade since 2000. We’ve seen the impacts of these heavier rains through devastating floods like the 2018 Frederick Ave corridor flood that damaged 200+ homes in the Beechfield neighborhood and the unacceptable number of sewage backups into residents’ homes that put Baltimoreans’ health, homes, and financial security at risk.
If we’re going to improve water quality and build strong, resilient communities, we must take ambitious climate action at every level. These bills are a good start and can help get Baltimore on a path toward a more sustainable future.
Submit testimony. Tell the City Council how climate change impacts you and what you think the City should do about it. You can testify virtually during the hearings on these bills or submit written testimony ahead of time. You can upload testimony here or via email ([email protected]) up to 24 hours before a hearing’s scheduled start time. You can use our handy testimony guide to get started and contact Taylor Smith-Hams if you need help.
Attend the public hearings. Provide oral testimony virtually or just tune in to follow the discussions on these bills:
January 13th, 2022 at 2pm: Building Code – Cool Roofs (21-0160) in the Rules and Legislative Oversight Committee. Join online here.
January 18th, 2022 at 10am: Procurement – Zero-Emission Vehicles (21-0159) in the Ways and Means Committee. Join online here.
January 19th, 2022 at 10am: Global Warming Solutions – Carbon Neutral City (21-0075R) in the Health, Environment, and Technology Committee. Join online here.
TBD: City Operations – Net-Zero Emissions of Greenhouse Gases (21-0161) in the Health, Environment, and Technology Committee