“2020 warmest year on record in Portland” (Jan. 5, Page B1) is another accounting of our changing climate. Curtailing CO2 emissions, which exacerbate warming, is addressed by One Climate Future, the collaborative plan developed by Portland and South Portland. Adopted unanimously by the City Council, it is comprehensive and necessarily ambitious.

In helping us reach our CO2 reduction goals, trees are powerhouses. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, each 25-year-old maple sequesters 400 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere. For 30 trees from age 25 to to 75, that’s 600,000 pounds. Let them continue for another 50 years, and that’s another 600,000 pounds. Trees are carbon sinks.

One Climate Future describes one of the next steps for Portland and South Portland, on Page 171: “Preserve carbon sinks. We will protect and expand carbon sinks within the cities – including forests, wetlands and healthy soils.”

Portland’s Plan 2030 comprehensive plan calls for all municipal decisions to “take into account the necessity of essentially eliminating CO2 emissions within 30 years.” Trees are critical in achieving this goal.

Early in December the city removed 30 or so maples, each at least 75 years old, from the Western Prom. The so-called “justification”? They are the “wrong” maples (invasives), and the water view was obscured. Weigh that against Commercial Street and Marginal Way flooding, depleted fish stocks, summer drought or an unlivable city for our grandchildren. Which will we choose?

To reach our carbon-reduction goals, we need every mature tree, regardless of our species prejudice. Act now on One Climate Future because the future’s in full swing.

Elissa Armstrong

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