Maine Climate Council holds its first meeting

HALLOWELL, Maine (AP) — Meeting just days after Democratic Gov. Janet Mills addressed the United Nations, the Maine Climate Council gathered for the first time Thursday to get started on the process of coming up with recommendations for the state to address climate change.

Mills opened the meeting by quoting 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg: “Change is coming whether you like it or not.”

The 39-member panel is tasked with recommending strategies for boosting renewable energy and reducing greenhouse emissions. The panel will take on the enormous task by dividing into working groups that’ll meet each month throughout the coming year.

Members include state lawmakers, scientists, municipal officials, energy experts and tribal officials, along with representatives of industry, fishing and environmental groups.

The panel is tasked with adopting proposals to reduce Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions by 45% below 1990 levels by 2030 and by at least 80% by 2050.

Mills also pledged at the UN on Monday to make Maine carbon neutral by 2045. She signed an executive order the same day laying out the ambitious goal.

“Maine will be carbon-neutral by 2045. And we mean it,” Mills said Thursday.

The climate council will provide recommendations by Dec. 1, 2020.

Also addressing the group on Thursday was former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, who served during the Obama administration.

She told the panel that change always starts at the local level. She said states shouldn’t wait for the federal government to address climate change.