Grassroots efforts tackling climate change

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In a time when there is such immense need for political action concerning climate change, we are seeing the Trump and LePage administrations intentionally block environmental progress on a local, state and national level. President Trump and his administration have pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, dissolved the National Climate Assessment advisory committee, and ordered the National Academy of Science to discontinue studying the health hazards associated with mountaintop coal mining.

These administrative actions are undoubtedly terrifying — but we have the incredible capacity as citizens to rise up and tackle these climate change solutions ourselves. The Sierra Club’s Climate Action Teams and their partners are organizing to implement practical climate solutions from the ground up.

Addressing the enormous and complex problems of climate disruption is intimidating, but Maine citizens are demonstrating that we can build the movement toward a safer and affordable fossil-free future. In the past few years, our teams have accomplished much and inspired many. We have installed electric vehicle charging stations in Cumberland and Norway, and developed community solar farms in Freeport and Wayne. We were the driving force in getting Portland to build the largest, municipally-owned solar project on the closed Ocean Ave. landfill, and we are working to install solar arrays on King Middle School in Portland. We have successfully advocated for plastic bag reduction programs in Brunswick and Topsham, and we are working with Window Dressers to reduce carbon pollution and weatherize our homes all over the state, in Buxton, Portland and elsewhere.

Most recently, we have championed the transition to 100-percent clean energy, and are helping the city of Portland to formulate plans to meet its commitment to power all municipal buildings and operations with 100-percent clean energy by 2040.

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In order to support this growing grassroots movement, Sierra Club Maine is hosting its third Climate Action Conference on Sept. 16 at the University of Southern Maine, Lewiston Campus.

The theme of this year’s event is “Maine Community-Based Approaches to a Clean Energy Future and Climate Change Solutions.” Workshops will include information on local solar power, weatherization, micro-grids, sustainable businesses, clean transportation, youth organizing, 100-percent clean energy goals, community resilience, sustainable agriculture, town government best practices, grassroots organizing, and much more. The keynote speaker will be renowned author, environmental and peace activist George Lakey, who will be presenting on “Building a Movement: A Big Picture Vision for the Climate.”

If you are ready to take action in your community, please join other Maine climate activists and concerned citizens from around the state to learn and listen about what solutions are working and how to implement them in your town.

We don’t have to wait for Washinigton, D.C., or Augusta. Mainers can act now.

Alison Znamierowski is the Sierra Club Climate Action Team organizer for the summer.

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