Maine Won’t Wait

In December 2020, the Maine Climate Council under Governor Janet Mill released Maine Won’t Wait, the four-year climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to build community and environmental resilience, and to spur transformational economic growth and opportunity. The Council agreed upon four climate action plan goals to reflect the diverse challenges posed by climate change: reduce Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions; avoid the impacts and costs of inaction; foster economic opportunity and prosperity; and advance equity through Maine’s Climate Response. These goals are supported by eight strategies for climate action included within the plan. Each strategy contains more specific outcomes supported by discrete actions, assigned to lead state agencies for effective implementation.

Goal 1 aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. In addition to curbing emissions with renewable sources of energy, carbon neutrality will also require enhancing natural and working lands for greater carbon storage capacity.

Goal 2 calls on the state to invest in climate mitigation and adaptation today in order to avoid the impacts and costs of inaction for the future. The state acknowledges that climate actions will be critical to address the climate crisis. For example, for coastal communities, modeling projects that 21,000 jobs may be lost due to the cumulative impact of coastal storms and sea-level rise between 2020 and 2050.

Goal 3 calls on the state to foster economic opportunity and prosperity by leveraging new opportunities and reversing workforce trends through the creation of good-paying jobs in the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors. In addition, Maine has a backlog of infrastructure projects for working waterfronts, roads and bridges, wastewater and water systems, and broadband deployment that can create jobs, support communities, and increase resilience.

Goal 4 emphasizes advancing equity through Maine’s Climate Response to ensure shared benefits across Maine's diverse populations.

Through the Climate Action Plan, the state emphasizes the importance of engaging with diverse groups of people and communities that are disproportionately affected by climate change. The plan recommends that the state create a new Equity Subcommittee of the Maine Climate Council to support the ongoing planning and implementation of climate strategies presented in this plan. The subcommittee will work to ensure the benefits of climate action are equitably distributed across populations, set clear equity outcomes for proposed state actions, monitor progress, and develop additional recommendations surrounding equity. The University of Maine’s Mitchell Center for Sustainability conducted an equity assessment of the plan's goals, which provided high-level recommendations and detailed considerations for many of the plan's climate strategies.

In order to create economic opportunities for Maine and increase equity in climate actions, the eight climate action strategies the state released in tandem with the plan cover a wide-set of areas, and contain various supporting outcomes:

  1. Embrace the Future of Transportation in Maine;
  2. Modernize Maine’s Buildings: Energy-Efficient, Smart, and Cost-Effective Homes and Businesses; 
  3. Reduce Carbon Emissions in Maine’s Energy and Industrial Sectors through Clean-Energy Innovation;
  4. Grow Maine’s Clean-Energy Economy and Protect Our Natural-Resource Industries;
  5. Protect Maine’s Environment and Working Lands and Waters: Promote Natural Climate Solutions and Increase Carbon Sequestration;
  6. Build Healthy and Resilient Communities;
  7. Invest in Climate-Ready Infrastructure; and
  8. Engage with Maine’s People and Communities About Climate Impacts and Program Opportunities.

For example, Strategy A surrounding transportation — a high source of carbon emissions — contains more specific actions for accelerating the state’s transition to electric vehicles, increasing fuel efficiency, and reducing vehicle miles traveled. The authors of the plan also acknowledge the importance of greater access to virtual working opportunities, medicine, and education through expanding broadband to reduce the need and use of cars.

Strategy F recommends providing state leadership for robust technical assistance and communities by 2024 to support local and regional climate-resilience initiatives. Other actions include developing and implementing updated land-use regulations, laws, and practices, as well as strengthening public-health monitoring, education, and prevention.

Due to the dangerous and disproportionate effect of climate change on overburdened populations, the plan outlines various funding streams to leverage a variety of resources and innovative financing mechanisms. These work to support sector-level transformations and to bolster the ability of Maine lenders to make long-term investments in climate-focused projects and initiatives. For example, the authors of the plan recommend that the state leverage record-low borrowing rates to support critical infrastructure projects, establishing priorities for bonds, which include a state infrastructure adaptation fund to support projects addressing climate impact risks. Maine Won’t Wait creates goals, outlines strategies, proposes financing opportunities and encourages the adoption of tracking metrics for effective implementation.

In June 2019, Governor Mills signed "An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and to Establish the Maine Climate Council" into law to create the Maine Climate Council. The Council, composed of scientists, industry leaders, bipartisan local and state officials, and citizens, was tasked with developing the Climate Action Plan. The development process took 14 months, with contributions of more than 200 Maine people from diverse backgrounds, across the Main Climate Council, working groups, and a subcommittee. The Council’s working groups — Transportation; Buildings, Housing, and Infrastructure; Energy; Natural and Working Lands; Coastal and Marine; and Community Resilience, Emergency Management, and Public Health — developed the strategies for action. The Climate Council then took these detailed strategies and added economic and equity analyses and greenhouse gas emissions modeling to further inform the state’s decisionmaking efforts. 

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Related Organizations:

  • State of Maine

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  • Adaptation plan

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