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Event Recap: Consistent and Compelling: Maine’s Model for Mitigating Climate Change

Event Recap: Consistent and Compelling: Maine’s Model for Mitigating Climate Change

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On Tuesday, September 14th, ASP, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and the University of Maine’s School of Policy and International Affairs hosted an in-person public panel discussing Maine’s role in enhancing climate and national security. Speakers included the Executive Director of the Graduate School of Policy & International Affairs at the University of Maine, Captain James Settele, USN (Ret.), Anya Fetcher, a Federal Policy Advocate at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, ASP Consensus for American Security member Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett, USN (Ret.), Director of Governor Mills’ Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, Hannah Pingree, and ASP Senior Fellow for Climate Security Jessica Olcott Yllemo.

Director Pingree initiated the discussion by taking account of the challenges, successes, and lessons learned while implementing Maine’s state climate action plan. She emphasized the intricacies of climate policy and its bureaucratic luggage, including workforce training, balancing land use between renewables, farming, and forestry, zoning laws, and generating buy-in across constituencies.

The panel also explored the Department of Defense’s climate change planning. In addition to discussing the individual service climate adaption strategies, RDML Barnett identified the unique risk posed by rising seas to the critical submarine base in Portsmouth and, ultimately, how the impacts of climate change in Maine will reverberate for U.S. national security. RDML Barnett also noted how the military must reform its emissions by electrifying its non-tactical vehicle fleet, and CAPT Settele raised the prospective use of biofuels for naval aviation and ships. In comparison to the government and bureaucratic hurdles identified by Director Pingree, CAPT Settele highlighted the military’s advantage in acting against climate change without waiting for legislation.

Looking toward the future, Director Pingree elaborated how overdependence on heating oil has hurt Maine’s economic security, which will present a particularly acute challenge as winter arrives. On the issue of the domestic costs of climate change, RDML Barnett and CAPT Settele contended that the U.S. military must prepare for more frequent humanitarian response missions. While the national guard has fulfilled this role historically, the climate-induced disasters of the future will demand more resources and more involvement.

The panel concluded by discussing the comparative emissions cost of rare earth mineral mining and fossil fuel extraction, the export of renewable energy technology to the Global South, and how to best advance “the ball” down the field.