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

Feds should raise price of carbon to address climate crisis, says Maine lawmaker who went to Glasgow

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Maine House Democrats
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Rep. Lydia Blume of York

Maine State Representative Lydia Blume of York is among members of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators who have been in Glasgow, Scotland at the COP 26 climate conference.

Blume serves on Maine's climate council, which helped draft the governor's four-year climate plan to reduce carbon emissions.

This story is part of our series "Climate Driven: A deep dive into Maine's response, one county at a time."

Deep Dive Climate Driven

Speaking from Scotland, Blume told Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz that she attended the conference to show how states like Maine can take meaningful action. And over the past few days, she says she's also been struck by what she's seen and heard.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Blume: One of the things that really affected me is the youth movement here in Glasgow. It's been very profound. I was lucky enough to bring my 21-year-old daughter here with me. And she has related to me her feelings about being a youth in the era of climate change, and the future, and how dismal it is. And I want to be able to come back and say, we're listening to you, our youth of Maine, our youth of the world, that we are in Maine actually making a difference. And we know and appreciate the importance of this. And I find that that is something that I'm going to bring back and really try to relate to our youth in Maine, because it's scary, being young, and trying to figure out if you want to even have children.

Gratz: The United States under President Biden has been trying to reassure other folks around the world that the United States is re-committed to combating climate change. And I'm wondering if, as you perhaps have worked with some other people at the conference, whether that message is getting through and is being believed?

Oh, I certainly think that people think it's back. They are so relieved. It's not been a big topic of conversation: we're really talking about what we can do. The urgency, the urgency of reducing carbon, and that by 2030, is so, so profound, we need to do it.

The states here in the U.S. can perhaps be more nimble in their work on climate change. But there are limits, aren't there?

We were talking about that, in the carbon pricing discussion of [the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative], how the price of carbon is too low, that we have to add that social value cost to the price of carbon. And that really has to come from the federal government.

African nations are concerned that they really need more developed countries like us, like the Europeans, like the Chinese to move more quickly than they will be able to, to get off of fossil fuels — the idea being that fossil fuels, which Africa still has in abundance, are going to be more necessary there for those economies to grow. I'm just curious as to what your reaction to that is.

Well, we hope that maybe they can skip over the need for fossil fuels and go directly to renewables. I mean, that's the hope, I think, from everyone who feels like we want to live up to the the standard of living of the United States, that we just need to be able to increase our technology development fast enough and give enough money to these states, such as in Africa, that can help them move directly to electric vehicles, for example,

Are you picking up any new ideas for either policies or legislation that Maine could pass to combat climate change?

We did a lot of work on that climate council report. There are a lot of recommendations in it. The only message I have to come back to is how we can do it faster. Because that's what we need to do. We need to, as the state of Maine, as the United States government, as our region, we need to do this faster. We need to reduce carbon. It's the decade of doing. We must do.