2014 Summit Outcomes

The Climate Solutions Summit Purpose and Outcomes

Background and Purpose of Summit

The purpose of the Climate Solutions Summit on March 12, 2014, was to give a diverse, multi-faceted group an opportunity to think about the future of Maine in light of climate disruption and take a first pass at setting critical strategic objectives to achieve a positive vision for our future.

The rates of change in our climate system during the 21st century are unprecedented in modern human experience. This becomes an ever-greater concern as we simultaneously address challenges to our economy, food security, human health, and other stressors in our society.

During the Climate Solutions Summit at the Augusta Civic Center, we discussed a vision of a thriving Maine in 2020 in which citizens working together across the state are overcoming climate challenges by incorporating adaptation and resilience into our communities.

Over 100 people participated in the Summit to begin making such a vision into reality.

Our shared vision is a guide for progress. It is a perspective from 2014 to orient us safely towards 2020 and beyond. We expect to evolve it as a living document in the years ahead. Your participation in future events will influence future iterations. If you feel strongly that our vision does not represent our situation today that is part of the point. The next step is to decide what you will do about it.

Outcomes of Summit

Summiteers identified six major objectives. Once achieved, they will represent significant progress toward our vision. Participants also identified many possible initiatives, or “action options,” in support of our six objectives.

Of course, this list of initiatives is not yet a plan. It is the beginning of a plan that will be hammered out in future meeting. Think of the vision, objectives and action options as an invitation to recruit resources to pursue our goals and to develop real projects with clear, measurable goals, and milestones against which we can measure our progress.

Our six objectives are best understood as a series of strategic constraints – the current barriers to achieving our shared vision. Effective endeavors engage in an ongoing process of identifying, prioritizing and eliminating constraints. To make maximum progress with the limited resources currently available, we can focus on advancing Objective 1, our prime constraint. Then, when we’ve accomplished that, we can identify and advance the next constraint, and continue this process until we have achieved our vision.

This is your opportunity to think about where you want to apply your unique insights and strengths. Right now there are many, many organizations in Maine working on sustainability, mitigation and climate adaptation; we hope this work helps you chose among the many available opportunities.

Climate Solutions Maine 2020 Vision: How Maine Should Be in 2020

Climate Solutions Summit March 2014

Maine communities are demonstrating their strength and resilience through sustainability in energy, transportation, education, food, business, natural resources, emerging technologies, health and public policy. We are making substantive progress on clearly defined measures of success such as the 2002 Maine statutory greenhouse-gas reductions.

We have positioned the state to be able to make the changes necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing climate. We are already benefitting from the implementation of actions that are being taken to address Maine’s climate challenges.

Energy efficiency is improving our quality of life. We have begun the transition to a sustainable clean energy society with a carbon free economy.

A shift toward localization in employment, health care, education, recreation, and cultural events shows promise for reducing transportation needs. Increasing utilization of zero-emission vehicles, alternative modes of transport and public transportation are demonstrating that we can achieve the connectivity we need while reducing emissions.

Our citizens of all ages have access to the education necessary to solve important problems in their changing world.

There is an abundance of food grown in our communities. We have revitalized area farms and reconnected our rural and urban economies. The success of a new generation of young farmers is making a substantial contribution to local food security.

There are vibrant local economies producing essential goods and services. There is evidence of increased entrepreneurial success. We are discriminating in our use of technology and we apply it with our sustainability values in mind.

We are beginning to enjoy the benefits of our efforts to assure the sustainability of our natural resources and the ecosystem services they provide.

We have established effective strategies to address our emerging public health challenges.

Climate destabilization as an issue has grown to be connected to all aspects of our economy and our natural resource-based life in Maine. The results of our actions on initiatives are a major focus of public discourse. Every elected official and voter in Maine has dependable information and support to develop policy that wisely addresses our climate future.

Strategic Objectives and Potential Initiatives

  1. Build and Communicate Public Commitment for Climate Action
  • Create and deploy local examples / models for public “consumption,” such as a town farm that illustrates “change your lifestyle” sustainability
  • Hold an Earth Day “arts festival” focusing on climate
  • Create a consortium of existing environmental groups to bring political action to bear in support of candidates
  • Bring to Maine researchers to present information on responsible consumer choices in relation to climate change
  • “Bridging the gap”: identify policies that would essentially eliminate carbon emissions and also appeal broadly to US public: revenue neutral carbon tax. For more info: citizensclimatelobby.org
  • Be assertive / develop a project to ask elected officials public questions about climate change
  • Initiate door-to-door championing of climate solutions
  • Neighborhood house parties [on the model of “resilient circles”] to explore community problems and how these relate to climate change, economics, possibly leading to ongoing groups throughout the state
  • Support energy retrofit projects involving school students
  • “Reduce your carbon footprint and reduce your taxes”
  • Establish a New England coalition to promote regional solutions
  • Identify particular constituencies (e.g., church groups) and create climate solutions messages for them, aiming at building commitment [social marketing]
  • Address the disconnect between urgency and in-action: sell the carbon tax idea as a job creator
  • Utilize information from large corporations, for example insurance companies, as examples of the need for climate action and as a point of access
  • Engage local officials in areas of interest they already have, such as road maintenance and emergency management issues related to climate change
  • Make climate modeling [such as Catalysis] more available to towns
  • Develop methods for disseminating climate information @ local level
  • Learn from the example of the Marriage Equality campaign: More than just the facts, provide personal experiences directed at specific policy goals: climate seems sometimes to have too many distinct goal areas. We need a specific policy goal to which we can attach stories
  • Utilize local examples of climate effects as a way into conversation
  • Use methods of communication attaching to other issues, such as food security
  • Develop a slogan e.g. “Carbon is taxing us.” With possible add-on: “where’s the credit?”
  1. Make Maine the Alternative Energy Leader on the East Coast
  • Reduce Energy Consumption
  • Set Revenue Neutral Price on Carbon
  • Energy Independence from Carbon and Imported Fuels
  • Create a supportive regulatory and policy framework that establishes the incentives to create a Maine based diverse energy portfolio of renewable (or) Fossil fuel free (or) carbon neutral energy production. Examples:

o   Champion a policy change towards implementing a Feed In Tariff for small scale energy production or residential energy production.

o   New and additional gasoline tax that would be completely used for alternative energy credits or infrastructure subsidies.

o   Institute a ‘carbon tax’ for similar purposes as above.

o   Ease regulations governing community power projects

o   Investigate international examples of superior low-impact/ ‘green’ energy independence such as what we know of in Spain and Germany and emulate the best approaches.

  • Identify future energy needs for the state of Maine. Determine potential for Maine based energy production to quantify specific types of energy production. Identify hurdles for developing potential projects by production sector (type). Utilize the Princeton model of energy wedges *(cite/name) to accomplish this task.
  1. Create a Resilient and Sustainable Food System
  • Set a Statewide Goal for Percentage of Local Food by a Date
  • Focus on local food and energy production and management and freshwater management
  • Create Food Security – Farms, Local Processing Centers, Jobs
  • Increase appreciation for and value of our food system, specifically farming, building security, sustainability and resilience of that food system.
  • Educate people on the difference between the price of food and the ecological cost of food.
  • Involve communities and municipalities in growing their own food and providing more locally grown food to their citizens.
  • Reduce regulatory, legislative, and policy barriers to a local food system, and support policies that promote a local food system.
  1. Invest in Sustainable Infrastructure
  • Identify solutions that create opportunities
  • Make sure our built environment reflects our values
  • Make policy changes to redistribute assets.
  • Better define what we need to do to address the transportation sector. redefine success or the vision of quality, transportation and community landscape.
  • Create strategy for sustainable transportation system in our state
  • Keep a local focus to provide for immediate action focused on warmth, food and health
  • Investigate the feasibility and startup funding sources for using methane digesters to create energy locally using human and animal waste as feedstock
  • Pass MUBEC (Model Uniform Building and Energy Codes) for the whole state and encourage adoption by municipalities that are currently exempt from the requirement.
  • Encourage municipalities to adopt codes locally that are more stringent than MUBEC.
  • Encourage municipalities to make their streets more walk-able and bike-able in order to encourage non-carbon intensive transportation.
  • Organize community climate change planning and strategy groups that conduct community tours that help the public visualize climate change impacts such as sea level rise or changing weather and its effect on agriculture and vegetation, and changing ocean environments and the effects on marine ecosystems and fisheries and economies.
  1. Build a Trans-disciplinary Curriculum For all Levels of Child and Adult Education That Teaches Sustainability, Community Engagement and Political Involvement
  • Make Maine a Leader in Collaboration and Education
  • Implement Transdisciplinary Sustainability K-12 Education Reform
  • Focus on education , communication and messaging specifically within our local communities
  • Create a Maine-centric Education System that will Retain Young People
  • Big picture, sustainability focused education
  • Educate not only young people but adults; not only about climate, but also about civic engagement, community and political involvement
  • Identify private and public schools that have created such curricula.
  • Create a list of stakeholders sympathetic educators.
  • Form a committed group who will meet to flesh out Objective 4
  • Create a hub for climate-related educational content that educators can use in teaching climate science
  • Encourage professionals to engage with vocational programs in order to update building practices
  • Host workshops for teachers to identify and fill knowledge gaps with regard to climate sciences
  • Educate legislators
  1. Create a Social Contract that Incentivizes Sustainable Behaviors

Agreement on Terms:

We began by reaching agreement on the term “social contract” and decided that it would include economic aspects (one perspective initially felt that “social” was exclusive – we agreed it meant anything to do with “society”). Attributes include:

  • Voluntary and generally self-regulated by force of culture (though may be reinforced by law, e.g. littering, sanitation, violence)
  • Commonly agreed upon way of doing business (norms)
  • Implies neighborliness, community, banding together of individuals to achieve shared community-scale objective

Examples of Successful Initiatives:

“No idling” starts with education, reinforced with signage, then becomes the norm.

Pledges, covenants, group reporting such as Weight Watchers for peer support

Peaks Island community bulk purchase of energy efficiency technology & installation (heat pumps)

Plastic bag tax in Ireland

Tours & publicity to celebrate quality and share how-to’s – garden, historic homes, Green Building

Necessary Ingredients for Success:

Create tangible bite-sized actionable objectives

Public visibility & recognition

Specific Ideas:

  • Transform the Values of Our Society
  • Examine Our Values (What do we value and how to we change what we value)
  • Define the true cost of our choices
  • Energy Star Plaques for home energy usage.       Use comparisons like done for Energy Star appliances (compare with high/low/average). Require Inclusion with real estate listings.       Use lawn signs to highlight high achievers. (Should also have energy building code.)
  • Provide resources (probably grants) to support community-scale endeavors. Efficiency Maine Trust noted as possible source to add to portfolio.
  • Ice cream/extra credit/other incentives for walking/biking/bussing to school.
  • Carbon Tax incorporated into road fuel tax system; proceeds could be directed toward reducing costs for fuel-efficient vehicles, bicycles, public transportation vouchers, et cet for lower income households
  • Study groups
  • Provide state incentives for grocery stores to carry higher % of locally grown foods.
  • Charge for plastic bags
  • Sustainability living coaches (achieve rating, get incentive like free health care!?)
  • Utility financed solar & efficiency investments paid for by avoided fuel costs
  • Do-it-yourself training for sustainability
  • Community bulk purchasing of solar, heat pump, efficiency/insulation services
  • Community housing teams – technicians available to help advise residents on what they can do.