Maine climate plan calls for climate neutrality by 2045

December 1, 2020 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine’s Democratic governor said Tuesday she will seek to use a series of law change proposals to help the state reach carbon neutrality by 2045.

Gov. Janet Mills made the statement as the state released its four-year climate plan, entitled “Maine Won’t Wait.” Mills, former Secretary of State John Kerry and members of the Maine Climate Council described climate change as an existential threat to the state’s environment and economy that will require bold action at the state and federal levels.

The plan calls for the state to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 and then 80% by 2050 while reaching carbon neutrality by 2045. The state will also seek to double its clean energy and energy efficiency jobs to 30,000 by 2030, Mills said. Maine will also double the pace of home weatherization, she said.

“These goals are ambitious, and they will not be achieved overnight, but we cannot and will not shy away from hard work to protect our state for future generations,” Mils said.

Mills said she would submit legislation to advance development of clean energy, enact sea level rise projections and boost sustainable forestry practices. She said she also plans to launch a pilot program that focuses on community-level climate resiliency planning.

The climate plan is the work of the Maine Climate Council, which Mills and the Maine Legislature created in June 2019. The council is made up of 39 members of different industries and communities in the state. The council’s co-chairs, Hannah Pingree and Melanie Loyzim, wrote in the report’s summary that the plan’s top goals beyond reducing emissions are creating economic opportunities through energy transition and preparing communities for challenges such as sea level rise and increased flooding.

Penobscot Nation Ambassador Maulian Dana, a member of the climate council, said it’s also important for the state to protect marginalized communities that often bear the brunt of the deleterious effects of climate change.

“I hope our solutions will flow from thoughtful consideration of our stories,” Dana said.

Maine has already experienced the impact of climate change on industries. The Gulf of Maine, a key fishing area, is warming faster than most of the world’s oceans, and that has led to the closure of the state’s longstanding shrimp fishing industry. The state’s agriculture and forestry industries also suffered from drought this summer.

Kerry, who is slated to become President-elect Joe Biden’s special presidential envoy for climate, said Tuesday that the Maine plan can serve as a blueprint for addressing climate change at the national and international levels.

“If we do these things that the governor is proposing, that Maine is wanting to do, not only do we set an example for our country and the world, but you’d be helping to make our country more secure,” he said.