The Portland City Council adopted the One Climate Future Plan that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Portland and South Portland by 80% by 2050. Courtesy / One Climate Future photo

PORTLAND — The Portland City Council Monday approved a climate plan that sets out a series of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, invest in renewable energy and help curb sea level rise and other impacts of climate change.

“It is an ambitious plan,” Portland Sustainability Director Troy Moon said of One Climate Future, a plan developed in partnership with the city of South Portland’s sustainability office. “We have 68 strategies and feel it is on very solid ground. The data we used is based on the latest science.”

The 68 strategies are grouped into four categories: buildings and energy, transportation and land use, waste reduction and climate resiliency.

The overall goal of the One Climate Future plan, which was approved by the South Portland City Council Oct. 13, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, if not sooner, and transition to 100 percent clean energy for municipal operations by 2040. Other goals include installing 50 megawatts of solar energy in the cities by 2030 and 245 megawatts by 2050; increase public transit ridership by 2035 and have an all-electric Greater Portland METRO and South Portland Bus Service fleets by 2040; reduce organics in the waste stream by 70% by 2030 and 90% by 2050; convert 15% of the cities’ impervious surfaces to green spaces by 2050; and ensure housing stock meets workforce demand by 2035.

“This is a 30-year plan and we will build on actions over the next decade,” Moon said.

Portland resident Maggy Wolf said achieving the goals won’t be easy and will require some tough decisions and investments over the years.

“We will all have to roll up our sleeves,” she said.

South Portland Sustainability Director Julie Rosenbach said the first priority is to continue the work that is underway, which in South Portland includes finalizing two solar power contracts to offset municipal energy use. Moon said an immediate focus will be to  continuing to work on Portland’s benchmarking goals, educating the public about the plan and advocating for environmental policies in Augusta, which “can provide some some really important tools for the private sector to engage in energy efficiency.”

A virtual public workshop unveiling the plan is set for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18.

“We want to make sure we have an opportunity to talk with the public about what’s in the plan, but we also want to listen and get people’s reactions to it and hear their ideas,” Moon said. “Neither Portland or South Portland can do this alone. It’s really a community process.”

According to the report, two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions in Portland and South Portland come from commercial, residential and industrial buildings, with close to a third resulting from transportation and the remaining from waste disposal and other sources.

The sea level has risen in greater Portland 0.07 inches a year since 1912 and, according to a 2018 National Climate Assessment, the level will continue to rise at increasing rates with expectations being between 1.5 feet and 3 feet by 2050.

Allen Armstrong, a member of Portland Climate Action Team, said although he sometimes worries “people in Portland will think the emission here are so small that whatever we do won’t make a difference in the world picture,” every little step will help to ensure a healthier planet.

Jill Duson, who is stepping down from the council after close to 20 years, said she is “very proud of this document.”

“It will be one of the things I will put down as a highlight of my public service to this city,” she said.

 

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