Last Saturday marked the conclusion of the United Nations’ climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland. For the past two weeks, leaders from around the world convened to negotiate plans and intensify efforts to combat the climate crisis. Called COP26, this was the 26th meeting of the “Conference of the Parties,” the nations that have agreed to a framework to address climate change.
What does an international meeting across the Atlantic have to do with Casco Bay?
As part of the Gulf of Maine, Casco Bay is warming more quickly than almost all other marine water bodies in the world. Over the past 28 years, on average, summer temperatures in Casco Bay have risen by 2.5° Fahrenheit [1.4° Celsius]. At Friends of Casco Bay we hoped that COP26 would lead to firm and immediate actions in response to the dire conclusions of the United Nations’ climate change report, published in August. That report scientifically confirmed that we are facing a global climate emergency, which is causing and exacerbating humanitarian crises around the world.
While we are disappointed that COP26 did not produce stronger results, the conference in Glasgow reinforced a valuable lesson: international change often starts at the local and regional levels.
“States are leading the way on climate action,” said Maine State Representative Lydia Blume, who serves on the Maine Climate Council and was present in Glasgow. Representative Blume said that here in the US and elsewhere around the world, it is encouraging to see an abundance of ambitious local and regional climate action. From her vantage, laying the groundwork locally can provide models and momentum for action on a larger scale. “We in the State of Maine are moving this work forward because we know how we want to address climate change, we have a climate action plan.”
Last week, Representative Blume and Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca were interviewed about COP26. You can watch the full 16-minute interview here, to hear Representative Blume and Ivy’s perspectives on the negotiations and climate issues in Maine. This interview was hosted by Waterkeeper Alliance. We are one of the seven founding members of Waterkeeper Alliance, a network that has grown to include more than 300 independent organizations working to protect waters around the world.
For Ivy, COP26 made it clear that working with policy makers like Representative Blume and organizations like the Waterkeeper Alliance are as important as ever. Relationships like these build support for the action we need. We cannot succeed in reducing the causes of climate change without concerted national and international efforts.
“We have to act now and without delay,” says Ivy. “The work we do on climate change to protect Casco Bay is augmented by the work of hundreds of Waterkeepers around the world, who are acting to address climate change in their watersheds. When I feel overwhelmed, it helps to remember we are part of a large network of dedicated people working to tackle this problem. So while world leaders lag behind, we must continue our work.”
Here on Casco Bay, we will continue to shine the spotlight on how climate change is affecting the Bay and advocate at the local, state, and national levels for policies to address and adapt to looming changes. A healthy marine environment is a resilient marine environment. Working with our communities to prevent pollution and keep the coast clean remains paramount.
In the months ahead, look for invitations to our Casco Bay Matters events where we will share updates on the work we and our partners are doing in this arena and answer questions you have. Thank you for joining us in addressing climate change and protecting the health of Casco Bay.