Today marks one year since the creation of Maine’s Climate Action Plan, “Maine Won’t Wait,” an exciting and ambitious framework to tackle climate change on all fronts in our state. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, it has been a pivotal year for climate action. Hundreds of Maine people, communities, and businesses have stepped up to deliver meaningful progress toward our climate goals.
As more and more Mainers have experienced, the impacts of climate change are on our doorstep. An updated scientific report released today by University of Maine scientists reinforces the need for urgent action. Exciting new municipal funding programs will give local towns the tools to act on climate. And a website launched today gives Mainers simple steps they can take to get involved.
Please join the Natural Resources Council of Maine in celebrating the past year’s successes as we look forward to next steps in achieving a clean energy future that works for all Mainers:
- Weatherization: The Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan dedicated $50 million to weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades of homes for low-income and older residents, as well as renters and schools. This investment will result in $100 million in lifetime energy savings and support close to 500 jobs. Updated building and stretch codes will lead to the construction of healthier, energy-efficient homes and buildings.
- Heat Pumps: This past year alone, 28,000 heat pumps were installed in Maine’s homes and businesses. Heat pumps are the cheapest, most efficient, and cleanest way to heat and cool your home or business, and Maine is well on its way to meeting our goal of 100,000 heat pumps installed by 2025.
- Clean Transportation: 54% of Maine’s polluting greenhouse gas emissions come from cars and trucks. More electric cars than ever are on the road thanks to Efficiency Maine rebates for electric vehicle purchases, and we now have more than 500 public charging stations throughout the state. A Clean Transportation Roadmap outlining the future of transportation in Maine will be completed by the end of the year, and new Clean Trucks policies will reduce pollution from trucks and buses.
- Community Resiliency: $25 million has been directed to help towns and Tribal governments plan for the impacts of climate change and protect our social and physical infrastructure from increased flooding, extreme weather, and sea level rise.
- Clean Energy: A new law passed in 2021 created a Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to leverage low-cost, private-sector capital to support clean energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, and climate resiliency projects. Maine has also moved forward on several exciting solar energy projects and is taking steps toward responsible offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine that will provide clean, reliable power that generates good-paying jobs for our economy.
- Upgrading Infrastructure: In addition to the funding coming to Maine through the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, we now also know that our state will receive nearly $2.4 billion from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This funding will be critical to repair existing water and road infrastructure, build more resilient communities and transportation corridors, make electric vehicles more affordable and accessible, and invest in our electric grid.
If you’d like to support NRCM’s climate action work please consider joining our 14th annual Dip & Dash community polar plunge and 5k event. Like last year, this year’s event will be fully virtual and held over the two-weekend period of December 26, 2021 – January 2, 2022. You can register or make a gift to support the event online.
Governor Mills and her Administration deserve a lot of credit for their leadership on climate and for insisting on an “all-government” approach to climate action. It is paying dividends today and for Maine’s future. Our state has made tremendous progress on climate, but there’s more to do to advance a clean energy future, modernize the electric grid, create a clean and healthy transportation system for all Mainers, and ensure Maine’s Climate Action Plan is implemented with ambition.
—by Jack Shapiro, NRCM Climate & Clean Energy Director