Brunswick’s Climate Action Task Force next week will request the Town Council approve emission reduction targets to mitigate the effect of climate change.

The task force, created earlier this year after the state received a $50,000 state grant to formulate a Climate Action Plan, is recommending the council approve emission reduction targets of 65% by 2030 and net zero by 2050 for the entire community. The task force is also recommending a net-zero reduction target for municipal operations, including schools, by 2040.

“These targets will help Brunswick prioritize emissions reduction and adaptation strategies, recognizing that actions developed as part of this Climate Action Plan will be intentionally flexible to allow for a wide range of activities to achieve these targets,” Brunswick Environmental Planner Ashley Charleson wrote in a community memo. “The above recommended targets are consistent with the International Climate Agreement targets that have been adopted by many communities around the world, including in Maine, most recently by both Freeport and Falmouth.”

Charleson serves as town liaison for the task force.

In 2020, Gov. Janet Mills announced a Climate Action Plan for the state, seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. Brunswick is one of about 130 communities in the state’s Community Resilience Partnership, which seeks to prepare for and reduce the effects of climate change. The town was awarded the task force grant through the partnership.

The task force compiled a report that found the community generates 240,767 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually. That equates to about 11.03 metric tons person, lower than the state average of 17.97 metric tons.


Electric vehicles and cleaner utility systems like heat pumps could be part of achieving the emission reduction targets. About 28% of the town’s emissions are from passenger vehicles and 13% are from commercial vehicles, according to the task force’s report. The report also found 53% of homes in town are heated by oil and kerosene.

The report cited statistics that sea levels have risen 7.5 inches around Portland since 1912. Further sea level rise could expand the town’s roughly 550 acres of coastal marshes, according to the report.

“Hundreds of buildings and thousands of properties may be impacted by sea level rise and inland flooding,” the task force wrote in the report. “Over 150 roads may experience flooding from storms in 2050.”

The Town Council in 2019 passed a resolution committing to fighting climate change.

One resident opposed to the emission reduction targets is Todd Gousky, who has appeared at recent council meetings urging the council not to adopt them. Gousky argued the science of the effects of climate change isn’t settled and the targets are an unnecessary burden on people.

“We have problems in this town with all the taxes and everything else and all the governance we’re putting on the people, and in my opinion, for our town to come up with emissions controls, we’re doing more of the same thing,” he told the council earlier this month. “There are things that can be done, but I don’t think emissions controls is the thing.”

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