Montgomery County released the first Climate Action Plan Annual Report since the county’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) was introduced in 2021. The plan is part of a strategic effort to completely eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.
“This summer has shown us that climate change is already here,” said County Executive Marc Elrich in a county press release. “Heat waves and storms are becoming more severe, underscoring the need for Montgomery County and other communities around the world to stay laser-focused on climate action.”
In the 2022 Climate Action Plan Annual Report, Montgomery County pledges to cut community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2027 and 100% by 2035. By implementing the plan, the Montgomery County government seeks to reduce climate-related risks to county residents, businesses, infrastructure and the natural environment.
The report highlights 75 accomplishments in the first year since the plan was initially released in June 2021. These measures reduced community-wide greenhouse gas emissions in areas including energy, transportation, building, public engagement and more. The plan outlines an additional 77 climate actions to combat climate change further for the next fiscal year (FY23).
“We will continue to accelerate our climate efforts in the coming year. I recommended, and the County Council approved, record funding for our climate initiatives in the county’s Fiscal year 2023 budget. Our local resources to address climate change will be enhanced by federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act,” said Elrich.
Climate Actions planned for 2023 include:
- Clean Energy: Solar panels will be installed at four Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) as well as county locations including maintenance yards, landfills, parking lots and the animal shelter.
- Buildings: The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will launch an Electrification Incentive Program in partnership with the City of Takoma Park. The Department of General Services (DGS) will complete the Holiday Park Senior Center net-zero building retrofit.
- Transportation: Ride On will have 14 electric buses in operation in FY23. The DGS will procure an additional 100 electric Ride On buses over three years, including approximately 45 electric buses in FY23. The DGS awarded a contract to install publicly accessible EV charging stations at approximately 65 libraries, recreation centers and swimming pools. Installation will begin in FY23. MCPS will continue testing and increasing its electric school bus fleet.
- Carbon Sequestration: DEP, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, Montgomery Planning and Montgomery Parks will continue tree planting across county landscapes in an effort to reforest natural areas.
- Climate Adaptation: DEP conducted an Urban Heat Mapping Campaign with community volunteers in early August. Through assistance from Thriving Earth Exchange scientists, the county will analyze the data gathered to identify communities to target for shade tree plantings on private property and along streets. The County also will continue developing a comprehensive Flood Management Plan amid severe weather conditions.
- Governance: DEP will launch a pilot program, providing climate resilience funding for low- and moderate-income housing to fill funding gaps in existing programs these households may benefit from.
- Public Engagement, Partnerships and Education: MCPS will begin implementing its new Sustainability Policy. DEP, other County departments and the Montgomery County Racial Equity Network on the implementation of the Community Justice Academy are working with “Community Ambassadors” who will co-create integrated health, equity and quality-of-life solutions that center on the needs and desires of low-income and Black, Indigenous and Other Communities of Color in the county.
Accomplishments from 2022, the first year of the Climate Action Plan include:
- Clean Energy: In an effort to transfer to solar energy, the county put in a total of 1,027 new residential solar installations. The county also introduced two community solar projects for low- and moderate-income residents.
- Buildings: The County Council unanimously passed legislation requiring minimum energy performance thresholds for existing covered buildings. Building Energy Performance Standards legislation drives buildings to improve their energy efficiency over a set time period, reducing carbon emissions.
- Transportation: The first 25 electric MCPS school buses have arrived as part of a plan to replace 326 diesel buses with electric school buses over four years. Ride On, a public transportation service, reported ridership was restored to 80 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels by January 2022. Free fares have been made permanent on Ride On for those under 18, seniors and persons with disabilities.
- Climate Adaptation: The Department of Environmental Protection completed the construction of Glenmont Forest Green Streets, which includes 53 rain gardens, bioretention gardens, and tree boxes. The Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security began to install 35 early warning flood sensors that can alert residents sooner about high water or flooding events.
Additional accomplishments include planting almost 7,500 trees during the spring 2022 season and introducing workshops and educational programs for both government employees and the public to become educated about how to fight climate change.
Adriana Hochberg, the County’s climate change officer and acting director of the Department of Environmental Protection, said the first year of the Climate Action Plan demonstrates how much can be accomplished in a short period of time.
“Combating climate change takes all of us. Our accomplishments during the first year of implementing the Climate Action Plan show how much we can achieve when we focus our collective efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing our community’s resilience to the impacts of climate change,” said Hochberg. “Through a tapestry of dozens of actions across multiple sectors, we will continue to drive down emissions and enhance quality of life in the County, with a special emphasis on members of our community who are the most impacted by climate change and have the fewest resources to cope with its impacts.”
For more information, see the Climate Action Plan
For more information see the Climate Action Plan Annual Report