Since 2009, Baltimore has been taking assertive action to reduce its contribution to climate change. With the adoption of its Sustainability Plan that year, the city committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent below 2010 levels. In 2012, a follow-on Climate Action Plan put forward the goal of doing so by 2020.
The Office of Sustainability’s 21 member Commission on Sustainability, comprised of representatives from government, civil society, and community, suggested a wide variety of actions for meeting this target. Among other things, they recommended:
- Reducing energy consumption in buildings throughout the city, including commercial buildings and schools;
- Adopting green building standards for new construction and large-scale renovations;
- Promoting mixed-use development that prioritizes pedestrian zones and public transit;
- Designing parking policy to encourage carpooling and other alternative transportation;
- Creating a Pedestrian Masterplan that enables safe walking and bicycling in the city;
- Promoting material reuse, recycling, and composting; and
- Preserving and increasing Baltimore’s urban forest.
The city further refined its understanding of how to respond to climate impacts in its 2013 Disaster Preparedness Plan, which prepares city residents and institutions to deal with the extreme weather that climate change will inevitably bring about. Recommendations in this plan include bolstering building design and codes, instituting green corridors and water supply management strategies, and educating the community about disaster preparedness.
In 2017, the city is rewriting the Sustainability Plan, with a focus on equity.The public is invited to comment on the draft, including the “Climate and Resiliency” section, and a final version is scheduled for release by early 2018. In the meantime, the city’s #EveryStoryCounts initiative invites residents to report on what they are doing to increase their community’s sustainability and resilience.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has affirmed the city’s resolve to proactively work for progress on climate and protection of the area’s natural resources.
“Our diverse natural ecosystems, including the Chesapeake Bay, are in serious jeopardy, yet remain the lifeblood of our region and viability of our communities,” she said in a recent statement. “As a city we cannot ignore urgency in these issues.”