For a stable climate, scientists agree we must reach global net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and cut emissions 45% by 2030.1 If done well, this will bring many other benefits - saving lives, making healthier communities, creating good jobs, and boosting local economies.
Michigan is Leading
In 2020, Governor Whitmer committed Michigan to be carbon neutral by 2050 - which means our state will be carbon free for all energy sources, including electricity, buildings, and transportation. With this action, Michigan became one of the leading states in taking climate action!
- Cut climate emissions 28 percent below 1999 emissions levels by 2025;
- Require all new state-owned buildings to be carbon neutral by 2040;
- Cut climate emissions from electricity and heating of government facilities 40 percent by 2040; and
- Engage communities impacted by this energy transition and minimize these impacts.
These goals are ambitious, but achievable if we immediately get to work. They also are in line with what climate science tells us that we must do.
The executive order created the Council on Climate Solutions charged with developing and implementing an action plan for the state to achieve carbon neutrality, known as the MI Healthy Climate Plan. There are also five Council Workgroups helping develop this plan and recommendations. A draft of the MI Healthy Climate Plan is due September 2021, and the final plan is due in December 2021. Find out how to attend their meetings and send in public comment here.
How Can Michigan Achieve Carbon Neutrality?
Most of the greenhouse gases (about 90%) come from the burning fossil fuels. In Michigan, roughly one-third come from transportation; one-third from power generation; and about one-third from heating buildings and industrial processes.
The remaining 10% of greenhouse gases released in Michigan are from fertilizers and industrial chemicals like refrigerants. These will be challenging to reduce. There are things we can do to capture carbon already in the atmosphere, and we’ll need to save this for these emissions that are hardest to reduce.
While 2050 can feel far off in human lives, we have to make some major changes very soon. Most of our vehicles and furnaces have about a 15-year lifespan. By 2035, every vehicle and every furnace or other heating appliance sold has to be electric or otherwise not emitting greenhouse gases.
Currently, less than 15% of Michigan's electricity comes from renewable sources, so we also need to move rapidly to build out the solar and wind needed to replace fossil fuels generating our electricity.
To learn more about reaching this carbon neutrality goal, listen to our podcast episode with Douglas Jester with 5 Lakes Energy.
What is Next?
MiCAN, other advocates, and thousands of people pushed the Governor to take bold climate action. MiCAN then shared the news of this action widely - including with this video, and we thanked the Governor for leading.
We are now working to make sure the MI Healthy Climate Plan is strong, and has the support it needs. Find out how to attend the Council on Climate Solutions meetings and send in public comment here.
This executive action is a huge step forward. Meeting this goal and making sure it is not rolled back by a future administration is also going to take policy change by the legislature. We are also working to support 100% renewable electricity policies in Michigan, which several states have already passed; and to support other clean energy policies like electric vehicles and community solar.
 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC 1.5C Report: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/