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Good climate news for a change

When we hear “climate change” it often comes with bad news.

Whether it’s stories about ecological crises or the burning of fossil fuels, the climate change alarm has been sounding for years. These stories are important. They help to educate and motivate us to take necessary action.

After years of sounding the alarm, our actions are paying off and we have some good climate news to share with you.

Maine’s Progress on Climate Action
Progress report shows Maine making strides implementing ambitious climate action plan

Maine has made substantial headway addressing climate change in the past two years. Initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, shift to renewable energy, protect the health of the marine environment, and more are described in a recently published progress report on Maine Won’t Wait, the state’s award-winning climate action plan.

Much of this progress is visualized in the Maine Won’t Wait Dashboard, an interactive map that shows where climate related programs and investments are being implemented.

At Friends of Casco Bay, we know climate change is the top threat to the health of the Bay. As members of the Maine Climate Council’s Coastal and Marine Working Group, we have worked with state officials, nonprofits, scientists, and community leaders to draft and implement Maine’s Climate Action Plan. Collaboration has been essential to this process. Together we are beginning to address the root causes of climate change – something none of us could accomplish alone.

The progress report shows Maine has many climate milestones to celebrate. We want to bring your attention to a few initiatives from the report that we are working on at Friends of Casco Bay. These initiatives focus specifically on the health of the marine environment and Casco Bay.

Enhancing coastal monitoring and data collection
Friends of Casco Bay continues to be a leader in coastal and marine water quality monitoring. We are helping to organize a collaborative effort among scientists, non-profits, and state agencies to standardize data collection along Maine’s coastline, with an emphasis on the rapidly developing science of ocean acidification. These data will inform how communities, businesses, and policy makers respond to the marine impacts of climate change.

Carbon storing in coastal and marine ecosystems
Also called “blue carbon,” coastal and marine ecosystems like salt marshes and eelgrass meadows can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Friends of Casco Bay helped to pass a bill last year that funds coastwide mapping of these ecosystems. We are also supporting the creation of a volunteer network of scuba divers to monitor the health of eelgrass beds.

Updating coastal land use laws
Friends of Casco Bay helped to pass legislation that requires coastal planning and land use laws to consider future rising seas and increased precipitation. The law mandated that uniform scientific projections for sea level rise be adopted into state law. Looking forward, we are supporting Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s efforts to revise Maine’s stormwater rules. Reducing stormwater pollution is crucial to protecting the health of Maine watersheds.

Assisting municipalities with resilience planning
Climate change is bringing new challenges to coastal communities. Friends of Casco Bay is working with the Greater Portland Council of Governments (representing 11 coastal Casco Bay communities) to identify high priority projects to address coastal flooding.

Equity in climate action
Friends of Casco Bay commented on and supported the draft recommendations of the Climate Council’s Equity Subcommittee. The Equity Subcommittee works to ensure the Climate Action Plan engages and benefits diverse communities. In addition, Friends of Casco Bay is supporting efforts to create statewide definitions and a framework for environmental justice.

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is crucial to addressing the climate crisis. As of 2019, greenhouse gas emissions in Maine were 25 percent lower than 1990 levels. This progress surpasses Maine’s goal of reducing emissions to 10 percent of 1990 levels by 2020, and has the state on track to meet its goal of carbon-neutrality by 2045.

While there is still much for Maine to do, let us take a moment to celebrate these achievements.