Environmental advocates said they were encouraged by Michigan’s new climate action plan, but also wanted to see faster action to decarbonize the state’s economy.
State environmental regulators released the draft MI Healthy Climate Plan on Friday, intended to outline how Michigan can meet Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s goal of making the state carbon neutral by 2050. Environmental advocacy group officials reviewed the draft plan and agreed it was a solid step toward climate change. action in Michigan, although they spoke in unison to push for even stronger measures.
The draft plan includes targets for state operations, transportation and business goals and seeks to balance the misguided scales of environmental injustice by directing funds to communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
The main goals of the plan are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Michigan’s economy by 28% by 2025, 52% by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. A Renewable energy standard of 50% by 2030 is part of the plan, along with burning coal for energy eliminated by 2035.
Environmentalists across the state believe Michigan residents can do even better.
Kate Madigan, executive director of the Michigan Climate Action Network, said the draft climate plan is a solid proposal that grew out of an ambitious goal the governor set with his carbon neutrality directive. She said some goals may need to be accelerated even faster than expected to achieve a stable climate future.
“There has been modeling to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. We know that we have to go very fast in a lot of things, in transport, and we know some of the criteria to meet,” Madigan said. .
“So like in supplying electricity to 50% of the renewable energy standard by 2030 – that’s very ambitious because of where we are right now with our electricity in Michigan. But, you know, we have to go a little faster than that if we’re going to cut our emissions fast enough to be on track to be carbon neutral by 2050,” she said.
These sentiments were shared by other leaders of nonprofit environmental groups. They agreed that the plan was a critical, even monumental step, but that more needed to be done.
Charlotte Jameson, director of policy for the nonprofit Michigan Environmental Council, served as co-chair of the Council on Climate Solutions, which was created by the governor’s 2020 executive order setting the goal of carbon neutrality. The council advised state regulators on the goals of the climate roadmap.
Jameson praised the state for coming up with a plan, but said bolder action is still needed.
“Michigan is already experiencing the devastating effects of our changing climate, from flooding to power outages, crop failures to failing infrastructure,” she said. “We know that the next decade will be decisive in our efforts to avoid even worse impacts.”
Tim Minotas, legislative and policy coordinator for the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club, said the draft plan is a monumental step for the state in its efforts to reduce emissions and act on climate.
“Climate change affects every corner of Michigan today, and this plan includes many crucial elements that will put Michigan on the right path to achieving its goals. However, Michigan can and should go further on issues such as building electrification and natural gas efficiency measures to really respond to the moment,” he said.
Other goals of the draft climate plan include powering all state buildings with renewable energy and installing panels or solar panels on state lands and facilities. Officials also list tripling Michigan’s recycling rate to 45% on the climate checklist.
As part of the Climate Factory Project, Michigan businesses are being asked to aim for energy waste reduction targets for the use of electricity and natural gas. Energy-efficient building codes and expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure are goals included, along with finding new ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The draft climate plan calls on the state to support skills training efforts, including adding clean energy skills training to existing curricula.
The state should also continue to fund improvements to Michigan’s housing stock, according to the draft plan. Specifically, homes ineligible for federal weatherization assistance should be brought up to better standards, according to the draft climate plan.
The state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy will accept written public comments on the draft plan until 5 p.m. EST on Monday, February 14 and will host two online listening sessions on January 26. and February 8 for verbal feedback.
The 45-page draft plan can be downloaded at www.michigan.gov/climate, where registration for online listening sessions will also be available.
“Climate impacts affect or will affect all Michigan residents and we hope for broad input into the plan,” said Hugh McDiarmid Jr., spokesman for EGLE.
He said state regulators were in “listening and learning mode” during the month-long public comment period.
Written comments may be submitted by mail sent to James Clift, Michigan EGLE, Executive Office, PO Box 30473, Lansing, Michigan, 48909, or by email sent to EGLE-ClimateSolutions@Michigan.gov.
An update on the comments submitted to the State will be provided to the Board on February 22 and the finalized plan is expected to be delivered to Whitmer by March 14.
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