New: Howard County Climate Action Plan 2015 Click link to left to view.
Climate change refers to human-made changes to the atmosphere that are causing unnatural changes in climate. A layer of greenhouse gases – primarily carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – act as a thermal blanket of the Earth, allowing sunlight to enter the atmosphere, but blocking heat from escaping. According to NASA, the burning of fossil fuels and increased deforestation has led to an increased concentration of greenhouse gasses and increases in Earth’s temperature. Scientists are not sure exactly what the heat increases will mean, but it is certain to change conditions on the planet as we know it.
We can all do our part to limit our contribution to greenhouse gases including spending less time in the car (carpool, walk, bike or use public transportation whenever possible) and using less energy (turn down the heat, turn off lights and electronics when not in use, insulate your home).
In 2007, Howard County became the second county in the country to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Under the Agreement, Howard County committed to take the following three actions: strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets, urge Maryland state government and the federal government to meet or beat the set target of 7% reduction from 1990 levels by 2012, and urge the U.S Congress to pass bipartisan greenhouse gas reduction legislation to create national emission trading.
The first step Howard County took to reach our new targets was to develop a comprehensive greenhouse gas emission inventory and a Climate Action Plan. The inventory measured greenhouse gas emissions for County government operations and also for the community as a whole. The Action Plan refined our goals and set forth a strategy for achieving them. Both can be found in the Climate Action Plan document found here.
In December, 2009, Howard County was awarded over $2.6 million in stimulus grant funds as part of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants Program. With the help of the grant, the County has implemented many energy programs to decrease greenhouse emissions and save money.
Projects include establishing a free home energy audit program, purchasing energy efficient lighting for County facilities, purchasing an electric pickup truck and a diesel hybrid truck, and hiring an Energy Manager for two years.