Maine Won’t Wait

On Jan. 13, 2022, the Cathance River Education Alliance and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust hosted a program on Maine’s climate plan – Maine Won’t Wait – as part of our Taking Action on Climate series. Below, you can watch the session (at the bottom of this post), read summary highlights of the program, find resources to learn more, and read suggestions on how to get involved.

This session focused on Maine’s climate action plan because it is so comprehensive and ambitious. It is an excellent resource for information about how climate change is already affecting Maine, what we must do to make our people and communities resilient, and what is needed to roll back our greenhouse gas emissions. Our guests were:

  • Sarah Curran, Deputy Director of Climate Planning and Community Partnerships with the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future (GOPIF)
  • Maulian Dana, Tribal Ambassador for the Penobscot Nation and Co-Chair of the Equity Subcommittee of Maine’s Climate Council
  • Ben Lake, transportation consultant for VEIC and member of the Transportation Work Group of Maine’s Climate Council
  • Bill Patterson, Deputy Director of Maine’s Bureau of Public Lands

Highlights of the session include:

  • Maine’s climate goals call for a 45% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and and 80% reduction by 2050.
  • 75% of Maine’s emissions come from transportation and residential buildings.
  • Significant federal funding is coming to Maine over the next five years, funding clean transportation, energy efficiency, clean energy jobs, and measures to build climate resilience.
  • There are many opportunities to increase carbon sequestration – in our forests and in the ocean (‘blue’ carbon).
  • 21% of Maine’s land is conserved, with a stretch goal of conserving 30% by 2030. (In 1980, only 6% of Maine was conserved.)
  • In forests, 75% of carbon sequestration is in the soil (25% in the trees aboveground). In Maine, over half of the carbon emitted is offset by carbon uptake by forests.
  • The Bureau of Public Lands’ Eco-Reserves store a LOT of carbon, 30% more than the average forest. Annually, they sequester an amount of carbon equivalent to the emissions of 7,500 cars.
  • Maine land managers and many NGOs have built consideration of climate change into their land acquisition criteria.
  • Transportation contributes 54% of Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions, most from light duty vehicles. Some of the strategies for reducing this include: transition to electric vehicles (EVs), increased fuel efficiency, alternative fuels, and reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT).
  • Consideration of natural resources, including the impact of climate change, is woven into everything Indigenous communities do. Indigenous knowledge is not in the past, it is present and relevant today.
  • Legislative efforts to define environmental justice are often couched in terms of mitigating past injustice. A more productive approach would be to have a forward-looking goal of providing everyone with clean water and a healthy environment.
  • The Equity Subcommittee looked at the Maine Climate Council’s report and asked questions such as, “Who is most affected by climate change and why do they not have equal access to resources?” Including the voices of marginalized people on the Equity Subcommittee was healing and productive.
Take Action!

Suggestions from the session included the following:

  • Educate yourself about vulnerable populations in your community and the challenges they face. Then see how you can contribute to community efforts to address those challenges.
  • “Green” your transportation: bike and walk when possible, use and support public transportation options, carpool, telecommute, go electric (help build the market for EVs)
  • Encourage your schools and community to: buy electric buses, install EV charging stations, switch municipal vehicles to EVs, install sidewalks and bike lanes, expand public transit, support mixed use development in town centers.
  • Check out this excellent resource page offering different ways to get involved in reducing Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions. It offers specific actions for individuals, businesses, and communities – something for everyone.
  • Get involved in and support land conservation in your community.
Suggested Homework
  • Try to reduce your Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) this week.
  • Learn what percentage of your town/community is conserved. This could be the first step to working to protect more.
  • Find out what vulnerable populations exist in your community and whether your community is working to help them become resilient to the impacts of climate change.
  • Find resources related to this session here.