By Stetson Miller

ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — Climate activists gathered Wednesday on Lawyers Mall in Annapolis demanding comprehensive climate legislation, including a 60% cut in greenhouse gas emissions and full electrification of new buildings, among other things.

Activists held banners and signs calling for legislative action and policies. They wanted to make a big statement on the opening day of Maryland’s legislative session by drawing attention to the number of people killed every day in environmental disasters.

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The protest marked the opening day of the 2022 Maryland General Assembly, and demonstrators had 100 empty white chairs across Lawyers Mall greeting legislators.

The chairs symbolize the 100 lives lost across the globe every six hours to climate disasters, according to an event press release.

“We are demonstrating the human costs of climate inaction,” Victoria Venable, the Maryland Director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network & Action Fund, told WJZ reporter Stetson Miller.

Many organizations supported the demonstration including, CCAN Action Fund, MaryPIRG Student Climate Action Coalition and CASA de Maryland.

State Senator Paul Pinsky of Prince George’s County is sponsoring a bill called the Climate Solutions Now Act. The act would, in addition to cutting greenhouse emissions, require the state to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

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The act would also require the Maryland Department of Labor to adopt regulations establishing certain energy conservation requirements for certain buildings by July 1, 2022. It would establish a goal of planting and maintaining in the state five million sustainable trees that are native to the state by the end of 2030 too.

“We have no time to waste,” Pinsky said. “You know, whether it’s flooding in the Inner Harbor or here in Annapolis, sea level rise, the horrendous storms—it’s getting worse and worse.”

Chairman of the Environment and transportation Committee Delegate Kumar Barve says that he’s confident legislators will pass several climate measures this session.

“We’re going to pass a lot of very important bills this year,” Barve said. “Both the Senate president and the House speaker are fully committed to this being a victory year for the environment.”

In fact, Pinsky suggested the state could take action on environmental issues as soon a six to twelve months after the legislation is enacted.

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Stetson Miller