Artic explorer Dr. Susana Hancock explains the rate at which Greenland is melting could fill 17 million 25-ounce bottles per second. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

A Freeport climate activist group implored locals to ride bikes, install heat pumps, buy locally, cut down their lawn mowing and take other steps to inspire other communities to join them in reducing carbon emissions.

“Freeport can be a model to our other cities and towns; small-scale, interactive interventions,” said Kathleen Sullivan, coordinator of Freeport Climate Action Now, at a community forum Tuesday.

For the past two years, the 12-person committee has been brainstorming ideas on reducing emissions by upgrading municipal buildings, installing electric vehicle chargers, altering the town’s emergency plan, hiring a full-time sustainability coordinator, planting trees, increasing public transit and expanding overall climate outreach in the community.

Most of these proposals have already seen action.

At the Tuesday forum, Sullivan invited guest speakers to share facts and figures on climate change within the state and worldwide.

How will the state of Maine combat climate change?

The state is working to reduce emissions by introducing home weatherization, clean energy, land conservation, heat pump installation and more EV-charging stations, according to Brian Ambrette, senior climate resilience coordinator with the Governor’s Office of Policy, Innovation and Future.


He said Maine has a goal to deploy 100,000 heat pumps by 2025 and, as of last year, had installed 82,000. Ambrette said the heat pump is more eco-friendly, but 60% of households in Maine currently heat their homes with oil.

David Bennell of Freeport said heat pumps were great for the community but wanted information on how the state would help farms, forestry and fisheries combat climate change.

Ambrette didn’t have all the answers but said the future may include electric fishing boats and building solar panels on farmland. He said the state is focusing on increasing the use of electric vehicles at this time, as more federal funding for EV stations is coming available.

Fred Robie of Freeport asked Ambrette when the Legislature will recognize cycling as a tangible solution. Robie accused Maine’s Climate Council of trivializing cycling by not including it in their plan. He said people may initially balk at the idea of a $3,000 electric bike but said it’s doable when compared to an electric car.

What does climate change look like globally?

Current reports indicate the Earth is 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.9° Fahrenheit) warmer than it was in the late 1800s due to carbon emissions that are still rising. To keep the temperature increase below 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit), emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030, according to the United Nations.

“The last decade is hotter than it has been in the last 125,000 years,” said Dr. Susana Hancock, an international climate researcher. “This summer may be quite hot, and it may give us a preview of what 1.5 degrees really looks like.

“We are going in a direction where climate inaction is significantly taking a toll. Almost half the population of the world are living in situations that are so climate vulnerable that their lives and livelihoods are at risk on a daily basis. It’s not, of course, just people; more than one million species are at risk of extinction, and we are coming into an El Niño period.”

Current data on the greenhouse gas emissions in Freeport will be presented to residents at a May 15 workshop at 6:30 p.m. at the Freeport Community Center, 53 Depot St.

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