Making Sure Michigan Has a Strong Climate Plan

Right now, the State of Michigan is developing plans for how we can achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This is the most ambitious undertaking in Michigan to address the climate crisis and it is critical that we get it right. 

However, some industries and stakeholders are working behind the scenes to water down the plan's recommendations. We need strong public engagement right now to make sure the MI Healthy Climate Plan is as strong as possible so we can reach carbon neutrality by 2050, which science tells us is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. 

Together, we can make our requests heard. Please sign this letter urging the State to develop a strong plan that will get us to carbon neutrality. 

Background

For a stable climate, we must reduce global climate emissions to zero by 2050, and cut emissions 50% by 2030.1 This means moving rapidly off fossil fuels. Not only will this slow climate impacts, but this will also reduce pollution, save lives, make communities healthier, create good-paying jobs, and boost local economies.

In 2020, Michigan became one of the leading states in taking climate action when Governor Whitmer committed our state to be carbon neutral by 2050. This means all energy sources in Michigan will be powered by zero-carbon sources, including electricity, buildings, and transportation. 

The Governor's executive order and directive also set the following goals:

  • 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 government facilities 40 percent by 2040; and
  • Engage communities impacted by this energy transition and minimize these impacts.

These goals are ambitious, but necessary, and achievable if we immediately get to work. 

 

How Can Michigan Achieve Carbon Neutrality?

According to modeling by Rocky Mountain Institute, for Michigan to limit warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, by 2030 we must: 

  • Reduce transportation sector emissions by 35-40% relative to 2005 levels,
  • Reduce electricity generation emissions by 90% relative to 2005 levels, 
  • And reduce building sector emissions by 50% relative to 2005 levels.

In short, to reach our 2050 goals we must make major changes very soon. Those changes should focus on efforts to decarbonize our electricity and electrify everything. We have the technology now to decarbonize our power sector and decarbonizing other sectors depends on achieving zero-carbon power generation. Currently, less than 15% of Michigan's electricity comes from renewable sources.

Sources:

[1] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC 1.5C Report: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/

[2] Carbon offsets can lead to increased pollution in frontline communities, double counting and increasing climate emissions overall, and other problems. There are some limited ways to truly offset carbon emissions, and those must be designed well and reserved for the most difficult sectors to decarbonize. See this comprehensive article from Vox.

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