Mills adds Maine to group of states aiming to abide by Paris climate change accord

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills announced on Thursday that she has made Maine the 22nd state to join a national coalition that has agreed to abide by an international agreement to reduce carbon emissions that the U.S. withdrew from in 2017.

The new Democratic governor made fighting climate change a key part of her 2018 campaign to succeed former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican who effectively put the state’s climate response on hold as research emerged during his tenure showing the Gulf of Maine has warmed more in recent years than 99 percent of the world’s oceans.

However, Mills’ agenda hasn’t been fleshed out early in her nearly two months in office, though she used her inaugural address to announce a goal of raising the share of renewables in Maine’s electricity supply and undid a LePage moratorium on many new wind projects.

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Mills spoke more on climate change at an Environmental and Energy Technology Council of Maine event in Augusta on Thursday. Many of her proposed steps were vague, aside from joining the U.S. Climate Alliance. That group aims to reduce carbon emissions by more than a quarter of 2005 levels by 2025.

That was a key tenet of the Paris agreement, an international 2015 pact on climate that the U.S. joined under former President Barack Obama but left under President Donald Trump. The states in the agreement — including Maine — represent more than half of the U.S. population but only a third of energy-related carbon emissions as of 2016, according to federal data.

[Janet Mills faces challenges in converting tough talk on climate change into action]

Mills also said she would present legislation to form a Maine Climate Council at the state level to meet carbon reduction goals, which she pegged at achieving 80 percent renewable energy in the electricity sector by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.

However, a Mills spokeswoman gave no details about who would be on the council, and it’s unclear what standards Mills is using for renewables. The federal government says Maine already gets about three-quarters of its electricity from renewable sources, though the state abides by a renewable standard that doesn’t include large hydroelectric installations.

This story will be updated.

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