Regardless of the outcome, the Paris climate conference that concludes this week presents an inflection point to assess progress and prioritize policies that will meaningfully and cost-effectively reduce pollution.

Since the last conference in 2009 in Copenhagen, which was a futile exercise of finger pointing and bucking responsibility, international negotiations have included constructive bilateral agreements with emission commitments from individual countries. China’s commitment to target peak emissions by 2030, for example, is a modest step they were unwilling to make six years ago. India has carefully pledged to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy.

A significant difference between 2009 and 2015 is that the United States has reduced emissions. This vastly different emissions trajectory has reframed the international discussion. Emissions in the U.S. fell 3 percent from 2010 to 2014 during a period of modest economic growth, including a 13 percent reduction in emissions from coal. For context, emissions increased by an average of 1.1 percent annually from 1990 to 2007. This dramatic shift was nearly entirely achieved through a technological breakthrough in natural gas extraction. Massive natural gas production led to transformative price reductions and became a cost-effective substitute to coal leading to lower emissions.

Disruptive innovations are the key to addressing climate change. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have recently articulated the importance of improved technology in cost-effectively lowering emissions, and are partnering to bring more research and development dollars to clean energy. This research has a fundamental role in catalyzing private investment in cleaner technologies whether it is natural gas, solar, nuclear power, storage or energy efficiency that could yield additional breakthroughs where costs come down and the market takes over.

Despite overall U.S. emissions reductions, there is much more New England can do to refocus and accelerate its own emissions cutting strategies. Our region’s existing policies are colossally inefficient with dizzying layers of regressive mandates. These add up in electricity rates paid by consumer. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab these policies cost the region about $500 million annually.

Instead, New England should advance one technologically inclusive and robust emission reduction policy and heed Moniz’s call to direct funding to our universities for energy research. Our region’s existing policies should be given some overdue tough love and be singularly designed to achieve cost-effective emission results. It is inspiring to think what this region could accomplish with targeted research and simple and effective clean energy markets.

In Maine, nearly 78 percent of our emissions come from the combustion of petroleum, compared with 41 percent nationally. While our electricity sector is one of the cleanest in the country, as an economy we disproportionately spend money on oil to heat our homes and drive in our our rural state. Gov. Paul LePage’s administration has built an energy policy that is reflective of this unique energy profile and has prioritized lowering heating costs, which has lowered emissions.

Similar to the national natural gas revolution, Maine has had its own mini-breakthrough with modern heat pumps. Heat pumps are tailor-made for Maine’s energy situation, efficiently using a relatively clean electric power sector to displace inefficient heating oil usage. This year alone, more than 10,000 have been installed in Maine.

Efficiency Maine Trust staff has done a tremendous job at delivering an incentive program over the last three years to assist Mainers in making these modern heating investments. Along with energy efficiency and other modern heating equipment from wood pellets and efficient propane furnaces, Maine is making a major dent in its greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, Maine has reduced emissions from heating homes by nearly 8 percent since 2010 alone and our winter bills are coming down.

We have more work to do in Maine, namely:

First, our low-income populations are disproportionately affected by high energy bills but are not able to invest in modern heating equipment or energy efficiency.

Second, while the University of Maine has prioritized clean energy research, we need to work to translate those efforts into commercial energy applications.

Third, transportation makes up the bulk of our emissions, but we have limited resources devoted to reducing pollution in this sector.

Regardless of the outcome in Paris, Maine should invest in research, development and commercialization of breakthrough technologies, target our own unique energy challenges, and continue to keep Maine ahead in lowering bills and emissions.

Patrick C. Woodcock is director of the Governor’s Energy Office. He was part of the U.S. delegation to Copenhagen in 2009.