First sitting Governor of Maine to Speak Before UN Calls on World Leaders to Do Their Part: “Maine won’t wait. Will you?”
UNITED NATIONS – Standing before the United Nations General Assembly, Governor Janet Mills today challenged leaders of the world to take action against climate change, saying the State of Maine will do its part and announcing that she has signed an Executive Order committing the state to carbon neutrality by 2045.
“We all have what it takes to combat climate change, to protect the irreplaceable earth we share and care for,” Governor Mills said in her remarks. “What is more precious than water, air, soil, the health and happiness of our children and our children’s children and yours? For all of them, today, by Executive Order, I am pledging that Maine will be carbon neutral by 2045.”
“And if our small state can do it, you can. We’ve got to unite to preserve our precious common ground, for our common planet, in uncommon ways for this imperative common purpose,” Governor Mills continued. “Maine won’t wait. Will you?”
Governor Mills’ Executive Order requires the Maine Climate Council – which she created with the overwhelming bipartisan approval of the Legislature – to provide recommendations no later than December 1, 2020 on ways to achieve a carbon neutral economy in Maine by 2045. The Maine Climate Council is scheduled to meet for this first time this coming Thursday, September 26th.
The Executive Order also states that the Department of Environmental Protection shall develop a framework for accounting and tracking progress on greenhouse gas reduction, and report on such progress every other year. It also directs that all actions taken to achieve carbon neutrality must grow Maine’s economy, protect our natural resources and achieve positive impacts for the people of Maine.
Governor Mills’ remarks before the United Nations are the first time a sitting Governor of Maine has addressed the body, the world’s foremost international peacekeeping and dispute resolution body. She was personally invited to speak by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and her remarks come as part of her participation in the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, which brings together governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organizations to develop ambitious solutions to climate change.
“It was a tremendous honor to speak before the United Nations, but what I am even more proud of is that the State of Maine is leading in the fight against climate change,” said Governor Mills. “The climate crisis is a threat to our environment, to our economy, to our very identity as Maine people – and our efforts today and tomorrow will help create a better future for our children and grandchildren and help build a stronger, more diverse economy for our state.”
Governor Mills has made tackling climate change and ushering in renewable energy a key priority of her Administration and under her leadership the state has made significant progress. She has signed legislation to increase Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 80 percent by 2030 – one of the most aggressive standards in the nation; set a goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050; launched an initiative to install 100,000 new heat pumps by 2025, expanded availability of electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations across Maine; established mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, and created the bipartisan Maine Climate Council to provide recommendations to meet these targets.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 24th, Governor Mills will also participate in a bilateral meeting with officials from the European Union to discuss how the United States and European nations can work together to combat climate change.
Later that day, she will also participate in a panel discussion convened by the U.S. Climate Alliance called, “America’s Governors: Delivering Our Commitment to Paris”. As part of the panel, Governor Mills will join other governors to discuss how states are taking action to deliver on America’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord. Earlier this year, Governor Mills announced that Maine has joined the bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 25 states committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Finally, the Governor will join The Nature Conservancy to deliver opening remarks for the premier of the short documentary film “Shellfish Growers Changing the Game on Climate”. The film, focused on the Shellfish Growers Climate Coalition, currently comprised of more than 120 companies, is produced by The Nature Conservancy and features Bill Mook, owner of Mook Sea Farm in Walpole.
Governor Mills’ remarks to the UN as prepared for delivery are below and a copy of the Executive Order is attached.
You can view video of Governor Mills’ speech here.
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, distinguished delegates and guests:
Maine won’t wait.
Our small state of 1.3 million people, which juts out of the northeast corner of this country, bordering Canada, bending toward Europe, 90% forested, with clean water, rolling hills, fertile farmlands, mighty rivers and deep ports, 3,000 miles of bold rocky jagged coast—
Our whole state is experiencing climate change — our weather, our iconic lobster industry, our insect populations; the warming, rising fish-rich seas that bathe our shores.
Maine won’t wait.
So we have enacted the most significant renewable standards in the country. We are investing in clean energy and conservation, electric vehicles and energy efficiency, community resiliency, sequestering carbon in our soil and forests.
We are cutting our appetite for fossil fuels, on which we have come to depend too much for heat, electricity and transportation.
And we have invented the most innovative floating offshore wind platforms in the world.
These investments will not impair our economy; they will improve it.
We are doing these things now, because we believe the irrefutable science.
Maine won’t wait.
We all have what it takes to combat climate change, to protect the irreplaceable earth we share and care for.
What is more precious than water, air, soil, the health and happiness of our children and our children’s children and yours?
For all of them, today, by Executive Order, I am pledging that Maine will be carbon neutral by 2045.
And if our small state can do it, you can —
We’ve got to unite to preserve our precious common ground, for our common planet, in uncommon ways for this imperative common purpose.
Maine won’t wait.