Climate change is real. It is here now. And it knows no political boundaries. Responding requires resolve, action to reduce greenhouse gases and mitigation of the already-inevitable impacts.

Resolve: Hawaii has passed legislation committing to the goals of the Paris climate accord, the first state to do so. Maine should do the same.

Action: Gov. Mills said in her inaugural address, “Enough with studies, talk and debate. It is time to act.” I agree. Both carrots and sticks are needed: incentives to encourage renewable-energy sources and deterrents to discourage greenhouse-gas emissions in energy, transportation and industry. Sweden and Canada have demonstrated that policy incentives in combination with a carbon tax can both cut emissions and spur economic growth. Hawaii is on the cusp of passing a carbon tax, which would make it the first state in the U.S. to do so.

Mitigation: Rising sea level, coastal flooding, weather extremes, acidification of our waters, impact on fisheries and degradation of ecosystems are all happening. Local, regional and state responses are needed to control the impacts. Globally, U.N. research has concluded that programs to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will be needed.

While climate change must ultimately be dealt with at the national and global level, it does not relieve us in Maine of the duty, indeed the moral imperative, to act responsibly at the individual, community and state level. Maine has the opportunity to lead. Gov. Mills’ just-announced climate agenda is an important step. I applaud it. Establish the Maine Climate Council. But tie them to a deadline to deliver clear recommendations that tackle resolve, action and mitigation. Prepare in the Legislature to debate and act on their recommendations. I’m with Gov. Mills. It is time to act.

John Zittel


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