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A deep dive into Maine's response, one county at a time.

DEP report finds Maine is on pace to meet goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

New England Forests
Robert F. Bukaty
FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2017 file photo, the full moon sets behind Hunt Mountain on a privately owned tract of land surrounded by land that now comprises the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument near Patten, Maine. A report released Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, by the Harvard Forest, a research institute of Harvard University, says New England has been losing forestland to development at a rate of 65 acres per day — a loss that comes at a time when public funding for preservation of open land, both state and federal, has also been on the decline in all six states.

A report released Thursday shows that Maine is on its way to meeting its greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Maine has a goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2045 — meaning it would sequester as much carbon as it emits — and the report released by the Department of Environmental Protection shows steady progress.

As of 2019, the report found, Maine's gross greenhouse gas emissions were 25% lower than in 1990. Transportation accounted for half of the state's total emissions, and those emissions had fallen by 8% since 1990. More significant emissions reductions came from the production of electric power.

DEP's Stacy Knapp says the state's Maine Won't Wait climate plan provides a blueprint for next steps toward carbon neutrality.

"Because it outlines the things that we need to do. If we don't do those things, or other things, we're not going to get there. If we just stop right now and it's business as usual, we're not going to get there," Knapp says.

The report also indicates that Maine is sequestering an amount equivalent to 75% of its greenhouse gas emissions, primarily through carbon uptake by trees and soil in the Maine woods. The report's data predate the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on greenhouse gas emissions.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.