New Mexico has made progress in reducing greenhouse gases and adapting to the effects of climate change that are already being felt, but there is still much work to do to combat this growing threat, a state task force said in its second annual climate report released Friday.
The state’s commitment to fighting climate change has grown stronger as the effects are “laid bare” with an extended fire season, severe drought and low water levels, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement.
“We are dead set against allowing climate change to bring about the next public health crisis,” the governor said.
The governor’s 2019 executive order called for the state to reduce its greenhouse gases by 45 percent by 2030.
The report outlined significant steps in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving energy, including:
u New building codes that improve energy efficiency and save new homeowners up to $400 per year in energy costs.
u The state investing $5.8 million in clean-energy and emissions-monitoring companies, creating jobs and helping the state reach its climate goals.
u An estimated 1,346 megawatts of renewables — enough to power more than 300,000 homes — will come online between the passage last year of the Energy Transition Act and the end of 2020.
The report also described future goals, such as the state adopting rules for low and zero emissions, cutting hydrofluorocarbon and further reducing greenhouse gases and other pollution from the oil and gas industry.
It calls for energy-efficient education modules to be introduced to public schools and for the public to have more chances to weigh in on how to counter climate change. And the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department should create a plan for modernizing the grid, the report said.
An environmental group applauded the state’s effort but said loopholes must be closed in methane rules for the oil and gas industry.
“Oil and gas emissions are the largest source of climate pollution in the state,” said Jon Goldstein, director of regulatory and legislative affairs for the Environmental Defense Fund. “If the loopholes are not addressed, Gov. Lujan Grisham’s administration will fall short of their ambitious and needed targets.”
Rules drafted earlier this year and still under public review would exempt any oil company that emits less than 15 metric tons of methane per year, which would exclude most in the state, Goldstein said.
The report also underscores the importance of the Legislature embedding the emission targets into statutes so the state can remain on track without disruption, Goldstein said. He noted that a decade ago, the state had a climate plan and now it’s starting again from scratch.
“We can’t afford for action on climate to be at the whims of politics,” Goldstein said. “The state must remain steadfast in its commitment to bold climate action.”
The task force that compiles the yearly reports was formed under the governor’s executive order.
The order directed agencies to develop a statewide climate strategy. As a result, efforts to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate have become part of the state’s programs and daily operations.
The report includes new emissions data from a Colorado State University study, which looked at how well the state’s initiatives will go in meeting its goals for reducing emissions.
“We are absolutely dedicated to continuing this critical work outlined in this report as quickly as possible.” Environment Secretary James Kenney said.