A changing climate is now influencing the natural hazards that impact life in Baltimore, causing many of these events to become more extreme over time. Simultaneously, new natural hazards have been emerging, which introduces additional planning challenges for public safety.
Nevertheless, many of the impacts associated with climate change may still be prevented by reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Baltimore’s 2012 Climate Action Plan (CAP) is the City’s most recent effort to establish policies and programs that focus on reducing GHG emissions through a range of strategies targeted at cutting daily fossil fuel needs.
The CAP will help make Baltimore a more attractive place for existing and future residents, employers and visitors. Many strategies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions also increase the energy efficiency of buildings, resulting in lower energy and water bills. Other strategies include:
- Promoting low cost transit options amidst rising fuel costs;
- Promoting safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists;
- Improving the public realm and air quality;
- Increasing recycling and re-use of materials;
- Greening the city through more tree plantings, and cultivated, clean vacant lots;
- Supporting local jobs;and
- Promoting mixed-use and mixed income neighborhoods close to public transit.
Outcomes of the CAP, in addition to outcomes of the Baltimore Sustainability Plan, will create a future for Baltimore, with:
- An emphasis on energy cost efficiency measures, education and outreach about energy cost saving rebates, re-investments and incentives, photovoltaic and solar hot water installations on homes and businesses and new buildings that use less energy than conventional buildings;
- A business and residential community committed to a more sustainable way of working and living;
- Incentives to encourage commuters to use alternative means to get to work other than driving alone;
- Communities that support transit oriented development and allow neighborhood commercial districts to flourish; Purpose of the Climate Action Plan
- Streets that support bicycling and walking for everyday needs and for the daily commute;
- Neighborhoods with clean water and shade for walking through green urban design and landscaping; and
- Water usage that sustains local water supplies.
The CAP’s strategies to reduce GHG emissions are associated with the activities of Baltimore, and include actions by businesses, institutions, local government and residents. The Baltimore City CAP is designed to meet its objectives by:
- Informing and inspiring meaningful, cost-effective and feasible means of meeting targets for emissions reductions;
- Enhancing, strengthening and complementing Baltimore Sustainability Plan actions already underway and planned for future implementation;
- Outlining implementation actions for each proposed measure including responsibilities and time frames; and
- Identifying procedures for monitoring progress made toward achievement of GHG emissions reduction targets.
Baltimore’s initiative to develop a CAP distinguishes the city as a true national sustainability leader. CAPs are the primary tool for jurisdictions across the world to reduce their GHG emissions. In the U.S., CAPs have been adopted at state, county, city and university/campus levels. Although existing efforts are underway at the global, national and state level, local actions are essential to address the impacts of climate change.