This is the first in a series about episodes in season seven of Connect the Dots, the Center for Progressive Reform’s podcast on climate solutions. Subsequent posts will be posted in the coming weeks.
The latest season of our podcast, Connect the Dots, has just dropped, and We. Are. Here for it!
This season, host Rob Verchick, a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans and president of the Center for Progressive Reform, is joined by guests from around the country to talk about climate wins. While the news is rife with negativity these days, we’ll be hearing stories of progress in the face of climate policy.
Our first episode — Climate Win: Maryland’s Climate Solutions Now Act— takes us to Maryland for a major legislative win and its key elements to success. Verchick spoke with the Center’s Katlyn Schmitt, a senior policy analyst who helped steer the Climate Solutions Now Act into law last year.
The act sets an interim goal of 60 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2031 in order to achieve net zero by 2045, pilots an electric school bus system in Montgomery County, and establishes a building energy performance standard, requiring buildings to reach net zero by 2040.
The law also establishes a comprehensive definition of “underserved” and “overburdened” communities to better identify communities impacted most by the climate crisis, who are disproportionately low-income people, including communities of color. The definition will also help ensure equitable assistance and benefits from climate-related funding, mitigation, and adaptation efforts throughout the state. In many ways, this law creates a standard for future climate legislation throughout the US.
To support underserved and overburdened communities, the law allocates funding to improve homes to be more energy efficient and weatherized to withstand natural disasters. It also establishes specific tenant protections to prevent landlords from passing the costs of home improvements on to tenants.
Coalition Support Critical to Passage
The act, passed under Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, became law not only because of supportive lawmakers but also because the Center and other community organizations and nonprofits advocated on behalf of its climate justice provisions, Schmitt said.
Together, the coalition drafted talking points and fact sheets to clarify the fine points of the bill, and its urgent need as our climate changes, for constituents and their elected officials. She also emphasized the importance of countering misinformation spread by the opposition. “There’s that tension from opposing viewpoints,” she told Verchick. “Sometimes misinformation is spread, and that’s really where a group like us can come in and really make an impact.”
Verchick makes this impact clear at the end of the episode: “Our mission depends on our ability to deeply research the facts, develop our own opinions, and communicate them to people like you. That’s what democracy is all about.”
For all the details to this episode, listen to Connect the Dots on your favorite podcasting platform and be sure to subscribe to catch the next episode which features a youth activist from Portland, Oregon who took on state government.
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