SOUTH PORTLAND — The public is encouraged to share ideas and input about a joint climate action plan between South Portland and Portland in a third and final survey, said South Portland’s Sustainability Office.

One Climate Future is Portland and South Portland’s joint climate action program. The two cities are in the midst of an 18-month process to solidify a plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy in municipal operations by 2040, and an 80 percent emissions reduction by 2050, said Lucy Perkins, South Portland’s sustainability program coordinator.

The program and the survey revolve around four main points, she said: building and energy use, climate resilience, transportation and land use, and waste reduction. These points will combine to make the two cities “inclusive, vibrant communities that provide opportunities for residents and businesses to thrive in a changing climate.”

By June, said South Portland Sustainability Director Julie Rosenbach, the team will bring the finalized action plan to the City Council for review.

In order to do so, both cities are looking for public insight, and the two sustainability employees hope that people will consider and share what they want to see happen.

“We made this an 18-month process on purpose to gather as much community input as possible because we look at this climate action plan as a comprehensive plan for the city to transition into renewable energy,” Rosenbach said. “And we’ve had two other survey’s prior to this.

“The first was just benchmarking where people were at, what their thoughts were,” she continued. “The second was looking at sort of barriers to actions, and the third survey looks at the strategies we’re considering. It’s not strategies we’re doing — it’s strategies we’re considering for our climate action plan, so this is by far the meatiest part of our process. It’s a long survey. Printed, it’s 21 pages because there’s basically 21 questions. And to me it’s important because it will both tell people what we’re thinking about and will enable us to get feedback.”

Perkins said that people do not have to take the entire survey if they would rather pick which questions that are most important to them, but Rosenbach added that most of the completed surveys that the two have received so far have been filled in front-to-back.

“In every question we have spaces to leave comments, and in almost every survey we’ve gotten back so far, people have written a lot of thoughts,” Rosenbach said. “People are clearly excited about this. We did an online version and we have a printed version with a self-addressed stamp and envelope. You can pick up a survey at city hall and mail it in.

“It’s important for us,” she added. “No one has to be an expert. We just want to know people’s perspective.”

The link for the online survey is at, or residents can visit South Portland City Hall at 25 Cottage Road to pick up a printed version. If anyone has questions while taking the survey, the South Portland Sustainability Office number is 347-4148.

The considered strategies all require different levels of city and state interaction, said Perkins. Some would involve new policies to be passed on a state level, but she said that South Portland is lucky to have a City Council that is supportive of this type of work.

“We’ve been talking with other city heads as well to make sure their input was included because they have expertise in things that we might not, such as stormwater management,” said Perkins.

The people of South Portland and Portland are showing through the surveys that they want and need a city-adopted action plan, said Rosenbach.

“(In previous surveys) we asked people how concerned are they about climate change, and we got a very high response rate,” she said. “And then we said, ‘How concerned are you that climate change will affect you personally?’ And we got about 70 percent of people saying that climate change will affect (them) personally, which I think is a big shift than in the past because climate change was always (considered) this big thing out there that’s going to affect island nations or something like that, so I think people are overwhelmingly on board and ready for cities to take action.”

Besides the goals that One Climate Future has set in place, Perkins and Rosenbach said that they are looking for ways to accelerate the plan, but residents utilizing city programs like the food waste recycling program also helps.

“I think people may be a little overwhelmed with everything they should be doing, and I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘Well, just commit to one action and start doing that and then commit to another,’ but it can’t be as little as, like, a reusable coffee mug,” Rosenbach said. “That’s not going to solve the problem. You know, we’re going to work on a public transportation system because we know we need to make changes there, but if you’re considering buying a new car, consider buying an electric vehicle. Consider solar for your house and consider heat pumps. To me, if I would commit to something, it would be big things and figuring out how I can do it. What we need to do is change the way we use energy.”

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