On Sept. 16, South Portland and Portland released the final draft of One Climate Future, a joint climate action and adaptation plan. One Climate Future is an innovative regional approach to climate action, bringing together two cities to meet shared climate commitments.

This week, the Sustainability Office is kicking of a series of articles dedicated to sharing key elements of One Climate Future with the South Portland community. The series begins with this introduction to the goals of the plan and the vision for One Climate Future.

South Portland and Portland are already feeling the local effects of global climate change – including rising sea levels, more intense storms, warmer air and water temperatures and ocean acidification.

In 2018, recognizing that the changes we see today are only indicators of the most significant changes that are projected to come, South Portland committed to a set of ambitious climate goals to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare for climate change. Under these commitments, both cities will:

· Reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, accelerating reductions between now and 2030 in a just and equitable manner;

· Run all municipal operations on 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2040;

· and build the resilience of our neighborhoods, infrastructure, and ecosystems to the impacts of climate change.

One Climate Future charts a course to meeting these shared goals over the next 30 years. This is a bold and transformational undertaking. We will need to rethink the way we design buildings, re-envision how we travel, and transition to a more circular economy. Nonetheless, it is an achievable plan. One Climate Future draws on our strengths, partnerships, and local context to ensure the approach is practical. Residents, businesses, community partners, and institutions will have a role to play.

Long Creek, South Portland. Gordon Chibroski photo/Press Herald

You may be wondering, what does a low-carbon, thriving, and inclusive South Portland look like? What does it feel like to accomplish One Climate Future goals?

We asked community members those exact questions and used the ideas and images shared with us to create a vision for South Portland in the year 2050:

“The communities of Portland and South Portland have set our sights on a livable future. This future is powered by clean, renewable energy. It opens doors to economic opportunity. In this future we continuously innovate, working in partnership with natural systems, replenishing resources, and creating new potential from waste. Clean air, clean water, and healthy food are a given.

“In this livable future, we create buildings and neighborhoods that maximize our health and happiness and minimize our carbon footprint. We create stronger connections — on the sidewalks, in the parks, on the bus, on the ferry — linking people to people, places, and opportunity.

“We invest in people and communities. In this future, we equip our communities with the resources to adapt to change and to create the quality of life we each envision. We partner, seeking the insight of people with direct experience and diverse knowledge. Together, we create a prosperous future for everyone, now and for generations to come. This is One Climate Future.”

The South Portland City Council will formally adopt the One Climate Future plan Tuesday, Oct. 13. This month, the Sustainability Office will hold workshops to summarize and review the plan with community members. Stay tuned for further details.

Our Sustainable City is a recurring column in the Sentry intended to provide residents with news and information about sustainability initiatives in South Portland. The Sustainability Office is located on the first floor of South Portland City Hall. Follow the Sustainability Office on Instagram and Facebook @soposustainability.

Lucy Perkins is sustainability program coordinator for South Portland. She can be reached at [email protected]

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