The Maryland General Assembly is expected to devote serious time and energy in the remaining days of the session to find a way to fund significant new investments in public education. That’s fantastic. But what good is it to invest in our children’s education if we’re not going to do everything in our power to leave them a livable planet (“Delegates must support clean energy bill — now,” March 28)?
This is not hyperbole. The assembly has before it an opportunity to slash Maryland's greenhouse gas emissions while creating thousands of new, high quality 21st century jobs. The Clean Energy Jobs Act would require 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2030 and would require the assembly to make a plan by 2023 to achieve 100 percent renewable energy, and implement that plan by 2040.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act passed the Senate 33-13, but is stuck in committee in the House of Delegates. What the House is contemplating, as we speak, is giving Maryland's children an excellent opportunity to understand, at a high level of intellectual achievement, how badly the elected leadership of the early 21st century mishandled the climate crisis, the worst existential threat in human history. This is the message of the growing School Strike for Climate, an international movement of schoolchildren whose most public figure is Greta Thunberg, 16, of Sweden. Ms. Thunberg has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize after drawing attention to the climate crisis by skipping school every Friday since last August to sit in protest in front of Sweden’s parliament. The movement has exploded: an estimated 1.6 million students in more than 120 countries including the U.S. left school on March 15 to protest adult inaction on the climate crisis.
These young people understand something that the Maryland General Assembly does not: climate change is here, and with a maximum of 12 years remaining to transform the world's economies and avoid the worst effects of climate change, every year counts. If this is not enough to attract the enthusiasm of exhausted end-of-session House delegates, why isn't $247 million getting their attention? That's how much the state stands to lose in federal tax credits through 2022 if the General Assembly delays passage of the clean energy bill to 2020.
Last fall, then-15-year-old Greta Thunberg told the adults in the room at the U.N.'s global climate change conference in Poland: “You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.” Will the members of the Maryland General Assembly look back on this session and be able to say they did everything possible in 2019 to give Maryland children a bright, healthy and prosperous future? If they do not pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act this session, the answer will be "no."