Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, right, announces the county’s new Climate Plan. (Source: Howard County Government)

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has announced the launch of Howard County Climate Forward, which includes the establishment of a Climate Subcabinet. The Climate Action and Resiliency Plan is the county’s first climate plan since 2015.

“This plan sets a course for reaching a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2045,” said Ball. “We will focus our efforts on four main areas to reach our goals: Energy, Transportation, Waste, and Nature-Based Solutions, which came about through extensive research. These efforts will reduce our Greenhouse Gas emissions and remove greenhouse gasses in the air by protecting forests and increasing native trees, plants, and healthy soils.” 

The HoCo Climate Forward plan will serve as a science-based and shovel ready workplan for every department and level for Howard County government. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon, the plan addresses resiliency and environmental justice. Some upcoming resiliency targets include making sure residents are prepared for emergencies, reducing heat islands, improving stormwater management to reduce flooding and enhancing ecosystems. 

“Howard County is already a leader on climate and sustainability,” said Tim Lattimer, incoming Howard County Office of Community Sustainability Administrator. “We will be a national model of climate-smart and resilient development.”

Howard County was the first county in the nation to receive a LEED Platinum certification for the current version of the Cities and Communities from the U.S. Green Buildings Council. Additionally, 12 buildings have received energy upgrades, which have fun down our energy use. Four more projects are near completion in the solar power purchase agreement, which will ultimately power more than half of County government operations and equates to powering more than 2,000 homes and providing the emissions benefits of planting nearly 300,000 trees.

“If all 24 jurisdictions show the intentionality, take the proactive steps, and utilize the thoughtfulness that Howard County has, it will be less heavy of a lift,” said Paul Pinsky, director of the Maryland Energy Administration. “[Y]ou’ve done a great job.”

With the establishment of the Climate Subcabinet, leaders from all County Departments will work together to ensure climate action and equity are incorporated into County planning and operations. The Subcabinet will also be required to facilitate transparent and frequent reporting on Climate Forward progress across all departments as well as to the public. Subcabinet meetings are expected to begin in July.