Contending that “the science is clear and climate change is directly impacting our public health, environment, our economy and our families,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has today signed Executive Order 2020-182 and Executive Directive 2020-10 creating the MI Healthy Climate Plan, with the pledge to make Michigan carbon-neutral by the year 2050.
Calling it a bold action to protect public health and to create clean energy jobs, Whitmer says that the MI Healthy Climate Plan makes Michigan the ninth state to commit to 100-percent economic carbon neutrality.
The governor says her comprehensive plan will “protect Michiganders’ public health and the environment” and help develop new clean energy jobs by putting Michigan on a path towards becoming fully carbon-neutral by 2050.
Whitmer says, “This dangerous reality is already causing harm throughout Michigan, with communities of color and low-income Michiganders suffering disproportionately, which is why I’m taking immediate action to protect our state. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to leave them a cleaner, safer and healthier world.”
She goes on to say, “Through comprehensive and aggressive steps, we will combat the climate crisis by formally setting and relentlessly pursuing a goal of statewide decarbonization by 2050. These bold actions will provide critical protections for our environment, economy, and public health, now and for years to come. It will also position Michigan to attract a new generation of clean energy and energy efficiency jobs.”
Executive Directive 2020-10 formally sets the goal of economic decarbonization in Michigan by 2050. The governor contends that transitioning to carbon neutrality will mitigate the future harms of climate change and enable Michigan to take full advantage of the ongoing global energy transformation—from the jobs it will generate for our skilled workforce, to the protections it will provide for natural resources, to the savings it will bring to communities and utility customers.
To ensure steady progress toward this goal, and to prevent irreparable harm to Michigan’s ecosystem, residents, and businesses in the interim, the Executive Directive further provides that Michigan will aim to achieve a 28-percent reduction below 1990 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.
Additionally, the directive dictates that the Department of the Treasury must develop and implement an Energy Transition Impact Project to assist communities in maintaining critical services and ensuring high quality employment for workers while moving toward a more sustainable future when faced with the closure of energy facilities.
To achieve these statewide goals, the Executive Directive tasks the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), under the leadership of its Office of Climate and Energy, to develop and implement the MI Healthy Climate Plan. It will serve as Michigan’s action plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning toward carbon neutrality throughout the economy. To help immediately position state government as a leader in these efforts, the Executive Directive tasks the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget with taking specific steps to increase energy efficiency and work towards carbon neutrality in new state buildings and facilities.
Executive Order 2020-182 creates an advisory council within EGLE to guide the department in its development and implementation of the MI Healthy Climate Plan. The Council on Climate Solutions will identify and recommend opportunities for the development and effective implementation of emissions-reduction strategies while focusing on targeted solutions for communities disproportionately being affected by the climate crisis. The Council and EGLE will work closely with EGLE’s Office of Environmental Justice Public Advocate – created by Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order 2019-06 in February 2019 – to ensure fairness for and representation from under-served communities.
EGLE Director Liesl Clark says, “Michiganders have been on the front lines of environmental protection from the first Earth Day 50 years ago, and we continue to lead with these important steps to safeguard Michiganders and their natural resources,” and adds, “We see forward motion with the establishment of the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice and the recent announcement of training and technical assistance to help communities address climate impacts. We’re excited to amplify and elevate the work of so many Michigan cities and towns taking vital steps to protect their residents and resources, while sharing in the benefits brought by clean energy industries.”
Responding to today’s announcement, Jim Keane, President and CEO, Steelcase Inc., says, “Steelcase commends Governor Whitmer’s passion to mitigate climate change while keeping Michigan in a competitive economic position. We’ve called Michigan home for more than 100 years and we are similarly committed to fighting climate change while growing our business. Steelcase achieved carbon neutrality this year and established verified science-based emissions reduction targets aimed at limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. We are doing the hard work of reducing Steelcase-generated greenhouse gases to become carbon negative by 2030. The urgent and omnipresent threat of climate change requires all of us to act collectively and swiftly. Steelcase is proud to continue the fight.”
Patrick Dillon, Executive Vice President of the Utility Workers Union of America, says, “Governor Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan represents bold leadership that will have a positive impact for generations to come. This plan positions Michigan to attract more renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs and takes important steps to make sure no one gets left behind during this transition. Done correctly, we can manage the impacts of climate change and bolster our economy and support union jobs. The UWUA and our members are united under the principals of both environmental and economic sustainability.”
Justin Onwenu, Environmental Justice Organizer for the Sierra Club and member of the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice responded to the governor’s announcement, saying, “Every Michigander deserves to have access to clean air and water but for so many years environmental justice communities have had to carry heavy burdens of pollution. So, addressing climate change is not just about saving our environment, this is also an opportunity to protect our communities from harmful pollution and create jobs by making meaningful investments. Michigan has an opportunity to lead on climate action by centering public health and environmental justice and Governor Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan represents this shared commitment to a future where all Michiganders can live in a healthy environment. The Sierra Club applauds Governor Whitmer for her bold leadership that can serve as a model for the nation and we are excited to work together to address the climate crisis that will continue to shape our state and nation for many years to come.”
The Governor will appoint individuals who represent the range of sectors, experiences, and expertise relevant to the issue. To apply for appointment to the Council on Climate Solutions, you can visit http://www.michigan.gov/appointments and fill out the application. Select “Council for Climate Solutions” from the drop-down menu under the Appointment Information section of the application. All applications must be received by Sunday, November 1, 2020.
Ken Fletcher, Director of Advocacy in Michigan for the American Lung Association, says, “We applaud Governor Whitmer’s bold initiative to address the impacts of climate change and ensure health equity within climate solutions. The climate crisis isn’t a faraway threat – it is a public health emergency happening now. Rising temperatures are increasing the formation of dangerous ground-level ozone pollution, and too many communities are facing dangerous air pollution burdens already. The current pandemic is a sobering reminder that we cannot take public heath for granted, and that our environment significantly impacts our health. Exposure to air pollution has been linked to an increased death rate from COVID-19. While everyone’s health is at risk from climate change and air pollution, some communities bear a disproportionate burden. Many communities of color, low-income communities, children, older adults, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions are at a greater risk from climate change and air pollution. Today’s actions on the climate crisis will strengthen our communities and protect the health and safety of Michiganders, especially our populations most at-risk.”
Executive Directive 2020-10 and Executive Order 2020-182 are effective immediately.
To view the full executive directive and executive order, click the links below: