Casco Bay Bridge, running over Thomas Knight Park in South Portland. Maxen Ryder photo

At the South Portland City Council meeting on March 28, Sustainability Director Julie Rosenbach led a discussion providing an overview of One Climate Future, a joint plan between Portland and South Portland to respond to climate change and reduce emissions. With the members of council having experienced turnover in recent years, the overview was deemed as a useful presentation to the current staff.

South Portland adopted and incorporated 67 strategies with over 100 action items into the Comprehensive Plan in 2020. The council committed resolves for the city to work toward, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions citywide by 80 percent by 2050, transitioning municipal operations to 100 percent clean energy by 2040, reaching aggressive interim goals to accelerate the reduction pathway by 2030, rapidly phasing out fossil fuels and technologies reliant on them, the city manager being directed to incorporate climate resilience policies in all of the city’s plans including the Comprehensive Plan update, and ending greenhouse gas emissions by 2029.

If these 67 action strategies are implemented with the action items that go with them, based on the energy modeling that the city’s consultants did for the plan, the goal of 80 percent of greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 will be reached.

The strategies fall under four main categories: buildings and energy use, transportation and land use, waste reduction, and climate resiliency.

“We know that the science is not telling us that climate change has been alleviated. It has only gotten more dire with worse predictions,” Rosenbach told councilors. She pointed out that 2022 was the second-warmest year on record in the Gulf of Maine, preceded only by 2021.

Rosenbach pointed out that not enough is being done for climate change, but that there is still the capacity for “enormous influence over the climate for the rest of the century. We have a grand challenge and we have a grand opportunity in front of us,” she said.

As one of the first plans to be a joint two-city action plan in the whole country, One Climate Future had access to nationally and internationally renowned consultants. The South Portland Sustainability Department took 18 months to create the plan, far longer than the minimum time require to make one, to make sure it created a plan that would fit the community. There were three surveys, over 1,600 responses to those surveys, almost 100 events to engage community involvement, almost 60 volunteers, and street team members that went out to talk to people.

As of now, 56 of the strategies are near-term, and are to be completed by 2025. Sixteen percent of the near-term actions are completed, nearly 70 percent are in progress, and 16 percent have not been started.

For more information about One Climate Future, visit

Comments are not available on this story.