Michigan could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by over 94 percent by 2050, according to a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, RMI, and the Michigan Environmental Council.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the MI Healthy Climate Plan in April 2022, which outlined the policies to reduce emissions in the state by 28 percent by 2025, 52 percent by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. According to the report, if the state follows the plan, it will not reach its goals.
The report concludes that the MI Healthy Climate Plan will help Michigan reduce emissions, but the state needs to do much more to reach its goals. If the state follows the policies in the report, it could reduce emissions by over 72 million metric tons, compared to 52 million metric tons following the MI Healthy Climate Plan.
How Michigan Could Meet its Climate Goals
The report outlines four policy areas that, if implemented, would help Michigan meet its goals.
Enacting a 100 percent clean electricity standard that would include phasing out coal plants by 2030 and a moratorium on constructing new gas-fired power plants.
Incentivize electrification of buildings and energy efficiency. Set a building electrification standard requiring 100 percent of all new heating equipment sales to be electric by 2035, with interim targets leading up to 2035.
Adopt clean car and truck sales standards, with 100 percent electric vehicle sales by 2030, and introduce incentives to speed up EV adoption.
Provide incentives to electrify industrial energy sources or adopt an alternative zero emissions fuel policy for hard-to-electrify applications.
“The report’s modeling confirms that Michigan has a real chance to lead on climate solutions, but policy matters,” said Charlotte Jameson, chief policy officer for Michigan Environmental Council. “Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 requires more aggressive actions in the near term than the state is currently on track for. Michigan decision-makers should use the findings of this report to craft a concrete policy agenda for climate action and move swiftly to implement it.”
Michigan’s Wind Energy Potential
Michigan has over 3,000 miles of coast along its lakes which could provide twice the electricity that the state’s residents used in 2019, according to a recent Environment America and Frontier Group report using data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The wind off the shores of the Great Lakes could provide electricity for seven states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin), but Michigan has the most significant potential. Offshore wind could provide three-quarters of Michigan’s projected electricity use for 2050.
Presently, more than 60 percent of the electricity used in Michigan comes from coal-fired power plants. Wind energy in Michigan accounts for only five percent of total energy production, compared to 7.2 percent of total U.S. energy production.