Planning for Climate and Energy Equity in Maryland

Funded by the Town Creek Foundation of Maryland, Skeo Solutions evaluated Maryland’s 2013 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act Plan - to determine the effects of the plan on state programs and disadvantaged communities. Aimed at enhancing social equity outcomes in Maryland’s climate planning, the programs were analyzed as to whether they benefit or reduce impacts on vulnerable communities - in order to identify programatic improvements, and the need for new initiatives. In addition, a number of long-term recommendations are offered to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance climate adaptation planning. 

A general recommendation is for Maryland to develop an iterative and adaptive climate and energy equity framework. This would serve as a baseline in order to establish and monitor progress towards climate equity in vulnerable communities. As outlined in Chapter 3, the process would include community engagement and the development of goals and indicators, identification of climate impacts and social vulnerabilities, and tracking progress toward equity goals.

To develop a baseline assessment of disadvantaged communities vulnerability to climate impacts across Maryland, the recommendations as stated in the report are to:

  • Develop a statewide vision for climate equity.
  • Develop standards that can be used by the state to define vulnerable and/or disadvantaged communities so that recommendations in this report can be implemented and monitored consistently across agencies.
  • Develop and implement a spatial data platform that integrates social, climate and environmental health burdens at the finest scale possible, preferably at the census tract or neighborhood level.
  • Develop and implement a framework and allocation monitoring tool for climate and energy resources based on the spatial data platform.
  • Develop and implement guidance for meaningful outreach and engagement of communities to include cross-agency program evaluation of existing outreach tools used by state and local agencies.

A few of the many additional climate adaptation and equity recommendations are to:

Support meaningful engagement and outreach to empower communities:

  • Encourage and support collaborative and participatory processes in the development and implementation of new or revised policies, programs and projects.

Address disparities in access to greenhouse gas reduction and climate adaptation benefits

  • Support and promote policies and programs, such as land trusts and co-ops that allow low-income communities and small businesses to participate in ecosystem markets.

Improve support for vulnerable communities through Maryland’s greenhouse gas reduction and climate adaptation programs and policies

  • Promote expanded tree canopies that protect low-income and medically sensitive communities.
  • Support targeted watershed management investments to reduce flooding, improve water quality and support health equity.

 

Publication Date: December 2015

Author or Affiliated User:

Related Organizations:

  • Town Creek Foundation of Maryland

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  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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