Maine Climate Council Update, Fall 2020
The bold timeline set by the Governor’s Climate Council legislation, to have a Climate Action Plan delivered to the legislature by December 1, 2020 is rapidly coming to its conclusion. The Scientific Assessment of Climate Change and Its Effects in Maine, on which the recommendations will be grounded, is complete. The draft strategies delivered in June from the six Working Groups (Buildings, Infrastructure & Housing; Coastal & Marine; Community Resilience Planning, Public Health & Emergency Management; Energy, Natural & Working Lands; Transportation) were assembled in summary form by the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future (GOPIF) over the summer into a Draft Strategy Framework. Part 1 of the Framework focuses on strategies to reduce Maine’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Part 2 of the Framework focuses on strategies to prepare for climate change impacts.
GOPIF staff did a remarkably good job summarizing the many Working Group Strategies into a coherent framework that incorporates the results of the Cost Benefit Analyses (Summary, see MCC Reports page for the 4 Volume set of supporting documents), the public input survey, and the Clean Energy Economy Transition Plan (still under development). At the most recent meetings, on September 9 and September 16, the Maine Climate Council endorsed the draft framework, adding some detail and emphasis, and started the process of priority setting that will be the focus of the October 1, 21, and November 12 MCC meetings.
The Equity Assessment of the Working Group Recommendations was just released at the end of September and will also inform the deliberations of the October and November meetings when the Action Plan will be assembled.
Outreach efforts were extensive considering the exigencies of COVID. The September 24 deadline for written public comment will allow staff to assemble a full summary. However, consultation continues with presentations planned over the coming weeks in collaboration with the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission, the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, and the semi-annual meeting of the regional planning agencies and the Municipal Planning Assistance Program.
Finally, the Action Plan to be delivered December 1 is the start of the opportunity for the planning community to have input into the recommendations. As Director Hannah Pingree informed us with a wink at the outset, membership on the Maine Climate Council is a “life sentence”. The first Action Plan will focus on the highest priorities. Implementation will teach us what is effective, technology will continue to offer new opportunities, and the legislative process will have its essential say in how the rubber hits the road. So stay tuned and show up – there will be plenty to review, support, question, and then to ask for more in the months and years to come.
Judy East is the Executive Director of the Maine Land Use Planning Commission. She serves as Maine Climate Council (MCC) member and Co-Chair of the MCC Working Group on Community Resilience Planning, Public Health and Emergency Management.