On Eve of Earth Day, When World Leaders to Sign Historic Paris Climate Agreement
NRCM news release
Today, standing in the warm sunshine in front of a wood-heated school complex, covered with a large solar electric-producing array, leaders from Maine towns described their actions to combat climate change and move towards a low-carbon, resilient and sustainable future.
Tomorrow is Earth Day, when the Paris Climate Change Agreement will be signed by world leaders representing more than 130 nations at the United Nations, in New York City.
Towns and cities across Maine have made real, on-the-ground improvements to help tackle climate-changing pollution. They have invested in energy efficiency – from light bulbs to building weatherization; solar installations serving towns, groups, and individuals; free charging stations for electric cars; wood-heated public buildings; public transportation and bicycle and walking lanes; advocated for clean energy policy, and much, much more.
“The City of South Portland is committed to reducing its climate impact,” says Julie Rosenbach, City of South Portland’s Sustainability Coordinator. “Under the guidance of our Climate Action Plan, South Portland has been steadily investing in making our buildings more energy efficient through lighting upgrades, boiler conversions, and the addition of air source heat pumps. Our planning director has been working with Falmouth and Rockland to spearhead the conversion of streetlights to LED technology. The City is also dedicated to transitioning to clean, renewable energy, including adding solar on our Planning Office, purchasing four electric vehicles, and siting five charging stations at City buildings – all free and open for public use. The addition of a solar array on the City’s capped landfill is our next goal, and we are working with Portland to move this project forward.”
“Two woodchip boilers supply all heat and hot water on the Falmouth school campus including the elementary, middle, and high schools,” says Kimberly Darling, Falmouth’s Energy and Sustainability Coordinator. “This has helped the environment and saved us money, too. The systems came online in 2011 and saved taxpayers $400,000 in the very first year. We buy the wood chips locally, and the waste ash goes to help local farmers.”
“As the price of oil and electricity started to climb 10 years ago, the Town of Freeport started looking for ways to conserve energy to save the taxpayers money and because it was the right thing to do,” says Donna Larson, Freeport Town Planner. “Over the last decade, town buildings have been air sealed and insulated; big electricity-using equipment has been replaced or removed; and solar panels have been installed. Then Solarize Freeport was launched to lower the cost of converting to solar for residents and businesses. The town is also working with its lower income residents to cut their consumption of energy. Looking ahead, the town is considering switching street lights to LED fixtures and installing enough solar panels to offset up to 40 percent of the town’s electricity consumption. Saving energy is good for the taxpayers and the environment; it’s a perfect combination.”
“The City of Portland is strongly committed to efforts that can mitigate the impacts of climate change,” says Troy Moon, Portland Sustainability Coordinator. “Recently, the Portland City Council joined more than 50 other cities to support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which would reduce CO2 emissions from power plants. The City has also taken steps to ensure that we use energy efficiently by completing a variety of upgrades in City buildings, including installation of efficient lighting, using energy management systems to control heating and cooling in buildings, and upgrading inefficient boilers.”
“Maine’s town leaders know that we need to both think globally and act locally when it comes to climate action,” says Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine. “More and more towns across Maine have been actively reducing carbon emissions and local costs through energy efficiency and renewable energy installations. It’s the kind of leadership we need at all levels of government to tackle the reality of climate change that all of us face in Maine every day now.”
The U.S. is signing the Paris Agreement with EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) set to begin. It is the largest step ever by the federal government to address climate-changing pollution. The CPP sets the first limits ever on carbon pollution from power plants. Power plants are the nation’s largest source of this pollution, generating 40 percent nationwide. The plan is often under attack in Congress and is currently delayed by a “stay” from the Supreme Court.
View a short video of Mainers from Paris to China and beyond taking climate action into their own hands at www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcRy2Fj1uVY.