December 04, 2019
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Maine unlikely to alter climate change goals after UN calls for drastic emissions cuts

Jason DeCrow | AP
Jason DeCrow | AP
Maine Gov. Janet Mills addresses the Climate Action Summit in the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills said 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 said 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,” Mills said. “We lost some time in recent years. We’re trying to make up for that.”

Hannah Pingree, the director of Mills’ policy and innovation office, said 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 said.

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

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

 



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