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New Maine Climate Action Plan Charts Path to Reduce Emissions

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Mainers have seen coastal flooding, sea-level rise and wetland loss in recent years, among other consequences of climate change. (Pixabay)
Mainers have seen coastal flooding, sea-level rise and wetland loss in recent years, among other consequences of climate change. (Pixabay)
December 2, 2020

AUGUSTA, Maine - A new Maine Climate Action Plan from the governor's office lays out a science-based approach to combat climate change while creating new jobs to help the state with economic recovery from the pandemic.

The plan commits to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions 45% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, and to preparing communities for the impacts of climate change - from rising sea levels and increased flooding to droughts and wildfires.

Ivan Fernandez, professor at the University of Maine Climate Change Institute and School of Forest Resources, said taking immediate action is crucial for future generations.

"The indicators of climate change are accelerating and so, too, must be our response," said Fernandez. "This Maine Climate Action Plan is a gateway to solutions."

Transportation makes up more than half of Maine's emissions; another 30% comes from heating, cooling and lighting buildings. That's why the plan also includes goals for more electric vehicles on Maine roads, and installing heat pumps and other, more efficient appliances.

With so many people jobless because of the pandemic, Matt Schlobohm - executive director of the Maine AFL-CIO - said he thinks the transition to a clean-energy economy can provide opportunities for workers.

He said job training is already happening - such as members of a local electricians' union working with apprentices on seven solar-energy projects.

"We know this solar work will continue and expand," said Schlobohm. "And similar opportunities to create high-road jobs exist - around wind, large-scale construction and efficiency projects, the future of transportation."

Maulian Dana - Penobscot Nation tribal ambassador - said tribal nations, immigrants, people in poverty and people of color all are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis.

"If we overlook their needs and experiences, we are not only doing a disservice to them, but we are setting back all of our work," said Dana. "Because a society is only as strong as its most vulnerable."

Environmental groups hope Maine lawmakers will take up some of the items in the climate plan in the next Legislature, which convenes its first meeting today.

Lily Bohlke, Public News Service - ME