September 23rd, 2020

In an effort to make Michigan lead by example in the fight against climate change and help get its economy moving again after being devastated by COVID-19, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-182 and Executive Directive 2020-10 to create the MI Healthy Climate Plan. The plan sets bold new goals to reduce carbon emissions for Michigan to become carbon-neutral economy-wide by 2050. The Executive Directive itself sets the carbon goals the state hopes to achieve at certain points throughout the next 30 years. These ambitious milestones mirror what Michigan has been working toward the last couple years since entering into the U.S. Climate Alliance in early 2019. To reach the goals set in the Executive Directive, the Executive Order creates a new Council on Climate Solutions within EGLE that will develop policy recommendations and implement strategies to help attain carbon reduction goals. The Council is also tasked with taking into account the impact climate change, and climate policy, has on disproportionately affected and underserved communities throughout Michigan. A working partnership with the newly created Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice will help ensure no residents are left behind during the planning and policymaking process.

In the days leading up to the announcement of the MI Health Climate Plan, EGLE and DNR both announced climate actions of their own that will support and supplement the new climate initiative. EGLE unveiled its Catalyst Communities program that will provide education, training, planning, and resources to local officials as they prepare for climate impacts that threaten their communities. The DNR followed suit by launching a carbon credit pilot program to be conducted on state forestland. The agency is contracting with the private sector to develop a feasibility study and provide marketing services in a project that uses carbon credits in more than 100,000 acres of the Pigeon River Country State Forest in northern Michigan. Both announcements show creative thinking to lower pollution and mitigate climate change.

The MI Healthy Climate Plan will help Michigan get back to work, preparing for the economy of tomorrow, and helping to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. By setting this vision, Governor Whitmer has shown she is ready to lead to avert the catastrophic effects of climate change.  These actions will also help Michigan become more resilient and provide guidance to other governors in hopes they make similar commitments in their states. 

We awarded this action a very high level of impact – 3 out of 4 – because of the promising leadership posture the Governor has now assumed on climate, and though there is much more that needs to be done, this meaningful first step lays a foundation for the much more difficult work to come. We look forward to further actions by the Governor and state agencies that make this vision a reality on the ground and across our economy.