Thursday, November 13, 2008

COG Strives to Make the Region a Little Cooler

Greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change will increase 43% by 2050 in the Washington region if we don’t make changes now. This is according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ recent National Capital Region Climate Change Report. As one of the first multi-state initiatives, COG adopted stringent goals to return to 2005 emissions levels by 2012 and to reach a reduction of 80% below the 2005 levels by 2050.

As chair of the Climate Change Steering Committee, which produced the report, I applaud the region’s commitment to combat the effects of climate change such as higher temperatures, flooding and related health problems. Although COG has limited power of enforcement, local governments are taking the plan seriously. In fact, Montgomery and Fairfax Counties already basically have signed on, and we expect more participation in the future.

Because energy consumption (like heating, lighting and electronics) accounts for about 2/3 of the region’s total greenhouse gas emissions, we as individuals can have our cake and eat it too. Fixes (like choosing Energy Star appliances, changing to compact fluorescent light bulbs and reducing use) can save businesses and home owners money in the long run. And, in Montgomery County, we offer rewards for purchasing clean energy and property tax credits for installing energy efficiency devices.

Governments must do their part too, especially when it comes to the 1/3 of greenhouse gas emissions that come from transportation. Suburbs are growing at the fastest rate in the region (projected 47% growth by 2030). That means potentially longer distances to work and family activities. With our choices, such as investments in transit, stricter fuel efficiency standards and encouragement of clean technology, we can look forward not just to a greener environment but to a greener economy too.

Look at the Washington Post article or the entire report, and let me know if you or your business is doing something innovative to help the region reach its climate change goals.


The Montgomery Green Democrats said...

It is reported that 6% of household energy is dedicated to clothes drying.

Solar drying (less glamorously known as "clotheslines") are banned by many homeowners associations. These bans are stopping homeowners from dramatically reducing their carbon footprint.

Rumblings are being made at the state level, but if progress does not manifest itself, can you and the rest of the council allow Montgomery to show the rest of the state the way towards those 2050 goals?

Thomas Hardman said...

With tongue slightly in cheek, please accept my Modest Proposal to Fix Everything:

First, everyone knows that one of the reasons that Maryland has such high costs in fuel is because Maryland is, at least in most parts, very hilly.

Well, there's not much we can do about Maryland's hills, other than to not drive on them. And how, one might ask, can one avoid driving on Maryland's hills? If you want to go anywhere, without a doubt there will be hills involved.

The solution is simple. Just Pave The Bay!

Look, we all know that because of excessive development and a failure to live up to longstanding agreements, the Chesapeake is doomed anyway. So, let's just pave it. Everyone wins! Let me tell you how.

First, once we Pave The Bay, we don't have to worry about fish kills or dead zones or pfisteria or any of that stuff. There's hardly any crabs left, and no real fishing industry to speak of, so it's not like there's going to be any significant commerical losses, other than to the Port of Baltimore, as if they were getting any business these days.

Secondly, once we Pave The Bay, we'll save lots of paper when we stop having those stories printed about wandering Manatees being sighted.

Third, and most importantly -- aside from all of the money to be made by developers, of course -- the Bay, once it is Paved, will be totally flat. We won't have any hills to make us step on the gas and get bad mileage. Also we can save money on those barrels of sand that you have to park at the roadside on hills so that people won't get stuck during snowstorms.

Yes, everyone wins when we Pave The Bay!


This exercise in editorial idiocy was brought to you by a lifelong Marylander who is, you know, just really tired of hills.