The Portland City Council reaffirmed its commitment to fighting climate change Monday by passing one resolution supporting an international agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions and another calling on the federal government to add a new fee on fossil fuels.

The move comes after President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord, which committed the U.S. and 195 other countries to reducing carbon emissions that contribute to increasing temperatures, severe weather and rising sea levels. The agreement was negotiated under former President Obama.

Shortly after Trump withdrew from the agreement, the U.S. Conference of Mayors announced they would strive to achieve the goals set out in the Paris agreement on a local level.

Another group, called the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, wrote an open letter to Trump in March, expressing support for the Paris climate agreement. The letter also raised concerns about rollbacks of clean power and fuel efficiency initiatives, as well as proposed cutbacks in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Mayor Ethan Strimling added his name to the list of over 200 so-called “Climate Mayors” earlier this month.

The resolution commits the city to the Paris climate agreement. It says that “the Portland City Council shall seek to implement the emissions reductions in greenhouse gases by innovative land use code, building code, support for electric vehicles, solar power generation and whatever other initiatives may meet with its approval for the continued protection of the city’s own environment and the world’s.”

The resolution highlights the city’s efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions, including local energy efficiency requirements for new buildings, efforts to track energy usage in large commercial buildings, and the plan to establish a solar farm on an old landfill on Ocean Avenue.

The council also voted in support of a separate resolution calling on Congress to assess a new fee on fossil fuels.

The National Carbon Fee and Dividend Policy would assess a fee on fossil fuels at the point of production or import. That revenue would be returned as a monthly energy dividend to U.S. households, according to a June 5 memo to the council from Troy Moon, the city’s sustainability coordinator.

“For the U.S., it would represent an important first step toward national scale climate mitigation that is compatible with existing cap-and-trade systems like New England’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,” Moon said.

Moon said the program would increase costs of fossil fuels at the wholesale and retail levels, which would “level the playing field for clean energy, making it more attractive to investors and consumers.”

Moon said proponents estimate that two-thirds of households would break even under the program, but Maine households would benefit more than the national average “because working class families fare better than the wealthy with equal rebates.”

Moon said the proposal also includes a border adjustment to discourage businesses from relocating to places where they can emit more carbon dioxide – a provision that could cause other nations to follow suit, effectively creating a “global price for carbon.”

Back in April, the council endorsed a resolution seeking the use of 100 percent clean energy for city operations by 2040.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

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