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This week’s edition!

Governor Mills: Maine knows firsthand that we cannot—and are not—waiting for others to lead

Last week I led the largest delegation ever from the State of Maine to the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik.

Whywere we in Iceland you might ask?

Well Maine’s delegation traveled to Iceland this year as it has many times before to certainly renew and reinforce trade relationships with the North Atlantic, that are fortified now by expanding shipping routes, and to encourage exchanges of business, academic, and research information between Maine and North Atlantic countries.

You know Eimskip, the oldest shipping company in Iceland, helped us transform an old facility in the Portland, Maine waterfront into a bustling port, linking our state to worldwide markets.

As a result, trade between Iceland and Maine increased more than four thousand percent over one two-year period as east coast businesses found new opportunities along the Green Line shipping route.

Next year, Eimskip will directly connect Maine to Greenland, expanding opportunities for trade and collaboration between our people in unprecedented ways.

This sea route, forged by the explorers of our past and merchants of the present, is a reminder of how regions can work together in the pursuit of a prosperous future.

Maine is poised to become the hub, the eastern gateway to the Arctic, a region whose allure we have shared since Portland explorer Robert Peary set foot on the North Pole in 1909.

Maine is bathed by the same north Atlantic waters, the same rising, warming waves that lap the shores of Iceland, but it is more than ocean waters that draws us together. 

It is more than the cultural and economic currents of our shared fisheries, our academic institutions, or even our trade in broccoli, mint chocolate, potatoes, lobsters, lumber, blueberries and beer — a lot more than that.

I realized that when I learned that the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the world’s ocean bodies. And then when I heard from our fishermen that lobsters are moving north and eastward into colder waters; and when I saw a devastating breed of insects, tics, migrating from warmer climates, and attacking and killing the moose in Maine. 

I knew then we have a lot to talk about with our north Atlantic neighbors. 

We need to talk about a world where we can accept science without polemic, where we work in a solid front, with a common goal, with sometimes uncommon means, to mitigate well-known dangerous effects of greenhouse gas emissions in this common purpose and goal — attacking climate change, on our natural resources, on our economy and on the health and survival of our citizenry.

Our Administration is committed to fighting climate change and mitigating its effects.

In just nine months, we have enacted significant standards for renewable energy in Maine. We are investing in clean energy and conservation, electric vehicles and energy efficiency and community resiliency. We support sequestration of carbon in our soil and forests through sustainable forestry practices.  

While in Iceland I signed an agreement with the Prime Minister of Finland for us to share forest research, product development, and sustainability practices in the face of a changing climate.

Both Maine and Finland depend so much on our forests, I know we can learn from Finland, and I think that Finland can learn from us.

We also now have a Climate Council in Maine to determine what we have to do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. 

This year, Maine also joined the bipartisan “U.S. Climate Alliance,” the coalition that is determined to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

A few weeks ago, I stood before the United Nations General Assembly and promised the world that Maine will be carbon neutral by 2045. And we are taking steps every day to get there.

At the same time, we will be expanding our economy, attracting young people to our state, and encouraging young people to stay with good-paying new green collar jobs.

Maine is small, but Maine is fiercely determined. In Iceland they like to say there are no problems, only solutions.

Iceland’s Prime Minister says “It can be an advantage to be small. You can do things bigger and faster. You can actually change everything in a short amount of time.” Well, we know that too.As a state which has also changed a lot in a short amount of time, Maine knows firsthand that we cannot — and are not — waiting for others to lead.

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