Climate impacts are occurring and will continue in the future, even as the state moves forward with actions that will reduce greenhouse gases and ultimately result in increased energy efficiency, a more sustainable economy, and cleaner air. Therefore, adaptation strategies, together with mitigation, are necessary to address climate change.
These actions are by no means independent of each other, and any program or policy to mitigate the effects of climate change will complement steps to reduce the state’s vulnerability to climate change. Climate change adaptation is an extremely complex process and there is no single means of response. A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences (2010) emphasized that climate change adaptation must be a highly integrated process that occurs across all levels of government, and with many internal and external partners and individual actions. Maryland is already taking important steps to enhance the resilience of a broad spectrum of natural and human-based systems to the consequences of climate change.
In December 2012, the Climate Change and CoastSmart Construction Executive Order directed that all new and reconstructed state structures, as well as other infrastructure improvements, be planned and constructed to avoid or minimize future flood damage. The order enacts a number of policy directives, including directing all state agencies to consider the risk of coastal flooding and sea level rise when they design capital budget projects, and charging the Department of General Services with updating state architecture and engineering guidelines to require new and rebuilt structures to be elevated two or more feet above the 100-year base flood level.
Maryland’s strategy for increasing resilience
Maryland’s Climate Action Plan includes two climate change adaptation strategies that are currently being used to guide state-level adaptation planning efforts. The first strategy (Phase I) addresses the impacts associated with sea level rise and coastal storms. The second strategy (Phase II), released as a complement to the Climate Action Plan, addresses changes in precipitation patterns and increased temperature, and the likely impacts to human health, agriculture, forest and terrestrial ecosystems, bay and aquatic environments, water resources, and population growth and infrastructure. Together, more than 100 experts from the governmental, nonprofit, and private sectors participated in a series of meetings for the purpose of interpreting the most recent climate change literature, evaluating adaptation options, and recommending strategies to reduce Maryland’s overall climate change vulnerability.
The strategies provide the basis for guiding and prioritizing state-level activities with respect to both climate science and adaptation policy over the near and longer terms. A variety of projects designed to implement components of the strategies is well under way and additional efforts have been identified as high-priorities for early action.
Additional information can be found in the following publications:
- Maryland’s Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Climate Change Adaptation
- Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Maryland’s Vulnerability to Climate Change, Phase I: Sea-level rise and coastal storms
- Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Maryland’s Vulnerability to Climate Change, Phase II: building societal, economic, and ecological resilience