Maine Unlikely To Alter Goals To Address Climate Change In Light Of New U.N. Report

Nov 26, 2019

Maine Gov. Janet Mills says a new report from the United Nations that is calling for unprecedented cuts in greenhouse gas emissions is unlikely to change the state's own climate change goals.

Speaking Tuesday at an unveiling of a new solar array at the governor's mansion, Mills says that her carbon reduction goals align with the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Accords, and that her newly-established climate council hopes to meet those benchmarks ahead of schedule.

"It's a huge undertaking. We lost some time in recent years, we're trying to make up for that," Mills says.

Mills was referring to Maine's inaction on climate change that preceded her election last year.

The Director of the State Office of Policy Innovation and the Future agrees with Mills. Director Hannah Pingree says that more than 250 people are assisting a newly-formed climate council, which will recommend policy and legislation to be considered by the Legislature next year. The council will hold public meetings in December about ways to meet carbon reduction targets.

"Maine is doing its part and, obviously, we need the rest of the country and the world to do the same," Pingree says.

Insufficient action globally is the subject of the new U.N. report, which says global emissions must begin falling by more than 7 percent beginning next year in order to meet the most ambitious goals of the Paris Accords.

Maine's climate council is working on a plan to reduce the state's emissions by 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Mills is also hoping to make the state carbon neutral by 2045.

Transportation, which accounts for about 55 percent of the state's carbon emissions, is considered the biggest hurdle to achieve carbon neutrality, followed by residential energy use, which accounts for roughly 18 percent of emissions. The Mills administration is also hoping that Maine's vast forestland, which acts to sequester carbon, can help the state meet its goals.

The state Department of Environmental Protection is expected to release an update emissions report in December or January, providing a benchmark for proposed changes.