Karina Graeter and Abbie Sherwin

On the Front Lines of Southern Maine Climate Resiliency with Karina Graeter + Abbie Sherwin

Karina Graeter and Abbie Sherwin are on the front lines of climate resiliency with the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission in coastal York County, where rising sea levels portend serious economic and environmental damage. As Sustainability Coordinator and Senior Planner & Coastal Resilience Coordinator, respectively, they work collaboratively with several coastal towns on resiliency strategies, a regional approach the Climate Action Plan endorses as a model for other communities to consider.

What inspires you to do this work?

Southern Maine municipalities are on the front lines of climate change, and we’re inspired by their enthusiasm to work together in a true regional effort to address climate issues and impacts. In a home-rule state like Maine, there is so much opportunity for communities to test creative and novel approaches to tackle climate challenges, be leaders on climate action, and help protect the places, natural resources, and way of life so valued by our communities for future generations.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle to your work? Or the biggest opportunity?

For our communities, the biggest obstacle to mitigating and adapting to climate change is the lack of capacity, guidance, and support. A regional strategy like ours is the biggest opportunity for addressing these needs. By helping the towns communicate and work together on climate change initiatives, we can leverage peer learning to share knowledge and experiences, and we can pool resources for regional initiatives that have a broader impact.

This sort of regional collaboration is just one piece of the puzzle for understanding and addressing local climate impacts. The Climate Action Plan will help to address some obstacles and information needs, but substantive work on climate change and mobilization of the Climate Action Plan will require coordinated and comprehensive action across all levels of government in Maine.

What would you like the governor or legislature to consider when they read this Climate Action Plan?

When reading the Climate Action Plan, we would like our state decision makers to keep in mind that our municipalities enthusiastically support the State’s efforts to address climate change, and they are eager to play key roles in meaningful climate action. To do that, municipalities need useful and usable information, technical resources, direct assistance, and financial support for understanding and addressing the impacts of climate change.