State climate change plan urges carbon neutrality by 2050

Posted at 8:38 AM, Sep 14, 2020

As wildfires rage across the state and country, a climate change report over a year in the making commissioned by Gov. Steve Bullock hopes to fight its effects in Montana.

Bullock issued an executive order to create the Montana Climate Solutions Council in July 2019, with a final goal of developing a climate solutions plan for the state. That plan was released Wednesday.

The group is calling for Montana to reach total carbon neutrality by 2050. By 2035, the group recommends that Montana reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector to 0%. The group is also advocating for low-emission vehicle standards and "revitalizing coal country," among lots of recommendations.

The plan was opposed by several major statewide groups, including the Montana Chamber of Commerce and NorthWestern Energy.

Since 1950, average temperatures in Montana have increased by 2-3 degrees, according to the 2017 Montana Climate Assessment. The same report predicts the state could experience an additional 3-7 degree increase in average temperatures by 2050 — without taking proactive measures to slow down the effects of global warming.

In the report, Bullock said the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a model of the type of action needed to fight the effects of climate change in the coming years.

"While the challenges of disruptions to our economy to protect lives and limit exposure are not immediately transferable to climate change, the ways in which our state, local, and tribal nation partners and businesses have come together to respond with a sense of urgency is indicative of the type of all-hands approach we need to prepare for and respond to the climate challenge before us," he said.

You can read the full plan here.