Montgomery Community-wide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Decreased by 30 Percent Between 2005 and 2020, According to Council of Governments

Per Montgomery County: Montgomery County community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions decreased by 30 percent between 2005 and 2020, despite a 13 percent growth in population, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) GHG emission inventories. COG has 24 member jurisdictions in the Washington Region, including Montgomery County. Montgomery County’s inventory covers GHG-emitting activities from the entire community, including the County government, businesses, industry, residents and visitors.

“This inventory demonstrates that in every sector of our County—from our businesses to our residents and local governments—we are successfully working together to bring down greenhouse gas emissions,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “Our Countywide efforts, including moving toward electrification and away from fossil fuels, encouraging electric vehicle adoption, planting more trees and making it easier and safer for people to bike and walk, are all contributing to our goals to cut GHG emissions 80 percent by 2027 and 100 percent by 2035.”

COG also prepared a GHG Contribution Analysis for Montgomery County that illustrates the main drivers of increasing and decreasing emissions, which show an overall net decrease in carbon emissions. Growth in population, commercial space and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) contributed to increased emissions. A cleaner grid, decreased commercial electricity use and reduced vehicle miles traveled per person helped bring down emissions.

The Montgomery County’s Climate Action Plan, which was completed in June 2021, details the effects of a changing climate on the County and includes strategies to reduce GHG emissions and climate-related risks to the County’s residents, businesses and the built and natural environment. In the first year following the plan’s completion, the County made progress on achieving 75 climate actions across a multitude of actions recommended in the plan. Among the key climate actions are the need to expand electrification and solar incentives for existing buildings—efforts that could go a long way toward reducing the estimated 24 percent of total Countywide GHG emissions that are generated by residential homes.

The Inflation Reduction Act will help reduce GHG emissions further. This legislation was signed by President Biden in August of 2022 and is considered the largest investment in clean energy and climate action in American history. It includes funding for multiple tax credits and rebates that are available to both low-to-moderate income (LMI) and non-LMI households.

“We are continuing to make progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Montgomery County, but we still have a long way to go to reach our goals,” said Climate Change Officer and Acting Director of the Department of Environmental Protection Adriana Hochberg. “I urge everyone to explore the tax rebates and financial incentives that are available through local, State, Federal and utility programs to make your home more energy efficient, electrify your ride and switch to clean energy. These actions will save you money and contribute to the County’s carbon reduction goals.”

In Montgomery County, third-party certified green buildings grew from 10 to 799 between 2005 and 2020. County grid-connected renewable energy systems, including rooftop solar installations, grew from about 200 in 2005 to more than 11,600 in 2020.

According to the 2020 COG inventories for the metropolitan region, buildings and transportation accounted for 90 percent of measured GHG emissions. Residential and commercial energy consumption accounted for 52 percent of measured emissions and transportation-related emissions accounted for 38 percent.

Across the region, emissions from buildings and transportation saw a greater reduction in 2020 than anticipated due to the COVID-19 health crisis. COG estimated that in 2020, emissions in the region were four to six percent lower as a result of COVID-19 due to lower than projected emissions from building energy use and transportation.

One of the new features of the inventory is the inclusion of trees and forests. Incorporating the impact of trees and forests during the 2005-2020 period showed an increase in the County’s overall net emission reductions from 30 percent to 32 percent due to both a reduction of emissions related to forest and tree loss and an increase of GHG removals (sequestration) associated with an increase in tree canopy.

The COG GHG inventories are compliant with the U.S. Communities Protocol for Accounting and Reporting Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Inventories. They provide completeness, consistency, accuracy, replicability, transparency and quality control. Carbon emissions from supply chains and personal consumption are not included in the scope of COG’s inventories at this time.

For more information about Montgomery County’s GHG emissions trends, including inventory data, fact sheet and quarterly Climate Action Work Plan Updates, visit the Climate Action Portal at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/climate/progress.html

For information about household tax incentives and rebates, visit the Lower My Bill Section of the Montgomery Energy Connection website at https://montgomeryenergyconnection.org/lower-my-bill/.

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