December 2020, Issue l
Welcome to the first edition of Meeting the Region's Climate Challenge! This monthly bulletin will be diving into key issues related to planning, climate change and economic development. It will provide up-to-date information on climate action across the region and state, and insights into what's happening at the local level and how municipalities can play a role in lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Today's edition focuses on newly launched state and regional climate action plans and the opportunity for shared implementation to advance local goals. The bulletins can be accessed on GPCOG's Sustainability page.
Mainers are not waiting to act on climate change

On December 1, Governor Mills launched an ambitious statewide climate action plan, Maine Won't Wait. Regionally, Portland and South Portland have launched implementation of their joint One Climate Future plan, which will prepare the cities for their shared climate future. The targets and actions outlined in these two plans will profoundly change Maine's energy and transportation infrastructure, revitalizing Maine's economy in the process.

GPCOG is joining the effort by launching a municipal climate action planning program to support the development of local plans that align with state and regional goals. GPCOG will provide technical assistance, support community engagement, source and analyze data on emissions and vulnerability, and guide towns in detailing climate action strategies. Additionally, we will convene expertise, facilitate collaboration, and ease coordination regionally and with the state.

Collaboration and coordination at a regional level will lighten the load of a long-term planning for climate change. Participating in the regional program for climate action planning will provide the following benefits:
  • Align municipal plans with state goals, preparing municipalities to benefit from future and state and federal project funding.
  • Reduce costs of planning, monitoring, and reporting on climate actions.
  • Take advantage of regional efficiencies in the implementation and knowledge sharing.
  • Create a pipeline of shovel-ready projects.
Embrace the Future of Transportation in Maine
The two plans identify actions across key sectors that will achieve their stated goals.
We identify a few key strategies and actions that are ripe for municipal collaboration below.
  • Develop an EV roadmap to put over 40,000 EVs on the road by 2025 and over 200,000 by 2030 (up from the 2020 baseline of around 4,000)

  • Bring high-speed broadband to 95% of Maine homes by 2024 and 99% by 2030, helping to reduce vehicle miles traveled

  • Increase public transportation spending to the national median at $5 per capita by 2024
  • Expand EV charging infrastructure by investing in chargers and updating city land use codes; advocate for EV-ready requirements in state building code

  • Offer excise tax exemption for EVs; advocate for additional EV incentives statewide

  • Electrify all city buses by 2040; develop capital transition program for electric/alt-fuel school buses and municipal fleets
Both plans identify a need for interim fuels and strong incentive
programs to make sure that electrification serves all Mainers.
Build Healthy and Resilient Communities and
Invest in Climate-Ready Infrastructure
  • Offer robust technical assistance for locally led resilience initiatives by 2024

  • Develop updated land use regulations and laws to enhance community resilience

  • Provide resilience design guidance for infrastructure and launch a State Adaptation fund for pre-development funding 
  • Develop resilience zoning and building standards, resources for retrofits, and integrate resilience goals in open space planning

  • Improve stream and shore buffers and critical ecosystems

  • Partner regionally to develop new flood modeling projections to show localized impacts
Additional actions — including investments in renewable energy, creation of green jobs,
and implementation of sustainable land-use policies — will benefit from collaboration.

There are many opportunities to collaborate!
Please contact us and set up a meeting to discuss your town's readiness for climate action.

Sara Mills-Knapp, Sustainability Program Manager, (207) 644-8414