Climate action roadmap unveiled  

MOUNT DESERT — A Climate to Thrive (ACTT), the local environmental organization, has presented a 126-page draft Climate Action Plan for the town of Mount Desert that aims to help achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030. 

The Select Board voted in September to pay ACTT $9,630 to prepare the plan. The remaining $6,420 of the total cost for the plan is to be grant funded. 

Voters at town meeting last May passed a “declaration of climate emergency” and committed the town to reducing greenhouse gas emission as much as possible by the end of this decade. The action plan that ACTT has prepared is a roadmap to achieving that goal. 

While the plan focuses heavily on municipal infrastructure, it also outlines ways in which the town can encourage and support residents in transitioning to clean energy. 

The plan includes a number of proposed actions in several categories such as energy, transportation, buildings, waste and water, adaptation and resilience. 

It notes that motor vehicles account for 54 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in Maine. To reduce Mount Desert’s carbon emissions from transportation, the plan recommends that the town “transition town-owned vehicles to electric and install the necessary charging infrastructure.”  

“The town will also support a community-wide transition to electric vehicles through community outreach and education and the installation of chargers by residents and businesses.” 

According to ACTT, houses and other buildings are the second largest source of carbon emissions in Maine, primarily because of the burning of fossil fuels. The Climate Action Plan says that, because electricity is a much cleaner alternative, “much of these emissions can be prevented by switching buildings to high efficiency electric technologies for heating, cooling, hot water and appliances.” 

“Greenhouse gas reduction in this sector will focus on meeting town operation energy needs with locally generated solar power. The town will also support and encourage community-owned solar.” 

ACTT recommends that the town create a new staff position, that of climate action coordinator, to oversee implementation of the Climate Action Plan and the town’s sustainability initiatives. 

The plan states that meeting the goal of a zero-emission Mount Desert Island will require “strong collaboration with other island towns, local organizations, businesses and the greater island community. Emissions from tourism and seasonal visitors must also be collectively addressed with all island towns in collaboration with Acadia National Park to achieve a zero-emission island.” 

ACTT acknowledges that switching from fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives, such as electric vehicles or heat pumps, can have a significant upfront cost. However, it points out that the proposed climate actions have the potential to save the town and its residents money in the long run by improving efficiency and reducing energy purchases. 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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