Gov. Janet Mills announced the membership Thursday of the Maine Climate Council, which will recommend strategies for meeting the state’s new, ambitious goals on renewable energy generation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The 39-person council will meet for the first time Sept. 26 to begin work on the group’s task to “advise the governor and Legislature on ways to mitigate the causes of, prepare for and adapt to the consequences of climate change.”

Jerry Reid, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, will serve as co-chairman of the Maine Climate Council. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The council will be co-chaired by Hannah Pingree, who directs the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, and Commissioner Jerry Reid from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. About a dozen other senior members of the Mills administration will serve on the council.

The membership also includes four state lawmakers, two scientists, municipal officials, energy experts and representatives from Maine’s tribal nations, the manufacturing sector, commercial fishing and forestry industries, the agricultural sector, environmental groups and a youth representative.

“Governor Mills has made tackling climate change one of her top priorities and, from ushering in renewable energy to establishing the Climate Council, she’s already taken significant action,” Pingree, a former Maine House speaker and the daughter of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, said in a statement. “The future of Maine’s communities, our state’s economy, and the lives and health of our citizens depends on us stepping up to confront the challenge of climate change.”

After campaigning for months on the need for more aggressive action on climate change, Mills proposed the council as a way to help develop plans for meeting ambitious new climate goals that she outlined soon after taking office.

The Legislature subsequently approved the council as well as the governor’s proposed new statutory goals for the state: reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and by 80 percent by 2050; and increasing the amount of electricity from renewable sources from the current 4o percent to 80 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

Hannah Pingree, who heads Maine’s Office of Innovation and the Future, will co-chair the council. Steve Collins/Sun Journal

Developing strategies, policies and legislative recommendations for pursuing those goals will be a key part of the council’s work as it develops its first report for the Legislature, due in December 2020. The council or its subcommittees and working groups were also charged with assessing the impacts of a changing climate on the state’s economy and natural resource-based industries as well as to help coastal communities prepare for sea level rise, larger storm surges and other changes.

The council’s first meeting was timed to coincide with global Climate Action Week and the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit next week. It also falls roughly one week after young people across the country – including attendees of six rallies in Maine – wage a “climate strike” this Friday to call for more action on the climate crisis.

One of the organizers of Bar Harbor’s “climate strike,” Ania Wright, will represent younger generations as a member of the Maine Climate Council.

“I’m really excited,” Wright, a 22-year-old senior at the College of the Atlantic, said this week prior to the formal announcement. “I think it is going to be a great opportunity for me to bring the youth voice to the government level and I want to involve as many young people as possible.”

The exact time and location of the first Maine Climate Council meeting had not been announced as of Thursday.

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