Gov. Wes Moore (D) announced Monday that the University of Maryland’s Center for Global Sustainability would work with the Maryland Department of the Environment and other state agencies to help implement provisions of the ambitious Climate Solutions Now law that the General Assembly passed last year.
Moore said the research center will provide key data to help state leaders develop policies and monitor the state’s progress in combating climate change.
“To reach those goals [in the climate bill] we need to have accurate data, not only to see how far we’ve come but how far we need to go,” he said.
Moore announced the partnership, which state leaders described as the first of its kind, during an hour-long discussion at the State House with state officials, academic researchers, business leaders and environmentalists on climate policy.
Housed at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy on the College Park campus, the Center for Global Sustainability receives contracts from an array of private businesses and nonprofit groups to study the science and economics of climate policy. Current research includes transitioning away from coal on the global level to helping Germany wean itself off Russian natural gas to demonstrating how public universities can serve their states and communities as research and innovation hubs for climate.
Nathan Hultman, the center’s director, said in an interview that his office has about 30 full-time employees; much of its funding comes from outside contracts.
State officials said that while researchers at the center have been conferring with Maryland agencies intermittently about environment and climate policy all along, this new effort guarantees that there will be more focused and steady collaboration — which Moore described as a sign that his administration is far more focused on meeting the state’s climate goals than former Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration was.
“Maryland is serious about fighting climate change,” he said. “But we cannot meet our goals alone. It’s going to take partnerships.”
Environment Secretary Serena McIlwain said the academic researchers can help fill gaps and explore topics that state agencies can’t always tackle.
“It does take more resources than we have — scientists and modeling and all hands-on-deck,” she said.
The sustainability center’s analysis is expected to outline the emissions reductions potential from multiple sectors and cover all harmful greenhouse gas emissions — including methane and hydrofluorocarbons. The framework is designed to serve as a catalyst for policymakers, business leaders and advocacy groups “to engage in thoughtful climate leadership to improve Maryland’s air and environment and help transition the most vulnerable communities to clean energy,” the administration said in a statement.
“These are extraordinarily challenging goals,” said Hultman. “The only way we can do it is if we work together…We’re all trying to creatively think about what we can do and what we can do better.”
As he frequently does when he talks about clean energy and climate change, Moore described the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a way to expand Maryland’s economy and attract new ground-breaking businesses.
“We want this to be the home of innovation,” he said. “We want this to be the place where entrepreneurs come.”