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Howard County joins Paris Agreement on climate change, commits to renewable energy goals

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced Tuesday that the county would join the Paris Agreement, an international agreement between nations and localities on standards related to climate change.

Signing the agreement means the county will have to obtain 20 percent the power needed for local government operations from renewable sources, reduce petroleum fuel consumption in the county’s fleet by 20 percent and reduce energy use of facilities by 25 percent, according to a county press release.

The county will aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of government operations by 45 percent below 2010 levels by the year 2030 and reach zero emissions by 2050. The county said it will accomplish this by reducing energy use, lowering fuel use and increasing renewable energy on public property.

Howard plans to convert its nearly 8,000 streetlights to energy-efficient LED lights and increase the target efficiency of the new circuit courthouse.

The county has solar energy generation at seven facilities including Miller Branch Library and New Cut Road retired landfill. The county plans to install 25 electric car charging stations at libraries, parks, community and senior centers within the next five years.

The county announcement comes nearly one month after Ball’s transition team urged him to sign Howard onto the agreement, and nearly two years since President Donald Trump pulled the United States from it. Since then, 285 counties nationwide have joined an agreement to combat climate change including five in Maryland — Howard, Frederick, Montgomery, Baltimore and Prince George's.

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