City councilors in South Portland are committing to speeding up their efforts to curb greenhouse gases after a push by youth climate activists from southern Maine.
Councilors passed a resolution Tuesday night that would require the city to incorporate climate resilience into its future plans, set aside more funding to fight climate change as needed, and support federal policies like a carbon tax.
The resolution also includes a commitment to implement policies to accelerate the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
The city took up the action after it received separate resolutions from the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and teenage activists from the Maine chapter of U.S. Youth Climate Strikes. That group helped to stage hundreds of climate strikes nationwide last month, including an event in Portland that brought out thousands of students and supporters.
South Portland High School Senior Amelia McNeil-Maddox said that local governments need to take action immediately to protect the environment for her generation.
"It’s going to impact every aspect of our lives," McNeil-Maddox said. "And that’s really scary, because we don’t know what the consequences might be."
South Portland City Councilor Kate Lewis told the young people that eliminating greenhouse gases will require significant change at the city, state, and national level, and she hopes they continue to push for action there, too.
"For better or worse, we will need to continue to rely on your leadership, from now far into the future," Lewis said, "because you are holding people’s attention now, and we need you to keep holding attention."
South Portland councilors say they’ve already committed to many climate goals, including work on a joint climate adaptation plan with the city of Portland.
Youth activists from U.S. Youth Climate Strikes presented a similar resolution to Portland officials and say they’re hoping to secure similar commitments from other cities or state lawmakers.