Saturday, February 1, 2020

Maine Climate Council: state meeting near-term targets, but transportation fix a challenge

Under Gov. Janet Mills, Maine has committed to a range of relatively tough climate goals: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent (vis a vis 1990 levels) by 2030; becoming carbon neutral by 2045; and reducing GHGs by 80 percent vs 1990, the world's baseline metric since the days of the original Kyoto conference. But how to accomplish that?

The Maine Climate Council, a statutory body with gubernatorial appointees, is tasked with figuring that out, and they had their second full meeting this past week. I reported on the proceedings in the Portland Press Herald.

The highlights: (1) the state calculates we're on target to meet our 2020 target of a 10 percent reduction in 1990-level GHGs, but keeping on course for the 2030 and 2050 targets will be a challenge; (2) a calculation of our carbon budget suggests that ongoing forest growth and the manufacture of durable forest products are offsetting 75 percent of our current emissions, which means our biggest-in-the-nation forest cover almost ensures that we'll be carbon neutral if and when we meet our GHG targets and; (3) reducing transportation GHGs -- 54 percent of the total and rising all the time -- is going to be the biggest challenge.

I last reported on the climate council on the occasion of their first meeting, and also wrote on what it will likely take to be carbon neutral here, and on Gov. Mills' original carbon neutrality announcement before the UN here.

Fun fact: the Gulf of Maine is the second fastest warming part of the entire world ocean, which has already had a whole range of effects discussed in this Press Herald series from 2015, which was a finalist for a Pulitzer, meaning you really ought to read it if you're interested in this topic!

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