The Bangor City Council and Orono Town Council authorized a Memorandum of Understanding that establishes the general framework for a joint municipal climate action planning process. This MOU marks an early milestone in what will ultimately be a 12- to 18-month public engagement process resulting in a community and data-driven regional plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the State of Maine’s four-year climate action plan, “Maine Won’t Wait.”

“Our region is going to face very similar climate-change related challenges in the years ahead,” said Tom Perry, Orono council chairperson. “We need to be proactive in the fight against climate change; partnering with each other to identify the best path forward makes so much sense.”

“In addition to helping our communities plan for the impacts of climate change at the local level, this process will reveal smart investments we can make today to save taxpayer money for years to come,” said Dan Tremble, Bangor council chairperson. “We are excited to see this important and timely process advance.”

The joint MOU calls on the two communities to establish a regional climate action plan that identifies strategies to decrease greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. The planning process will include emissions inventories, climate vulnerability assessments, and a climate action plan. This three-part planning process mirrors recent approaches taken by municipalities throughout the United States, including Portland and South Portland.

As a next step, the towns will issue a request for proposals for a project consultant with expertise in climate action planning and community engagement. The project consultant will establish a project management plan, design a robust public participation campaign, conduct various baseline climate-related studies, and ultimately produce a community and data-driven climate action plan. The towns anticipate issuing the RFP for a project consultant in the coming weeks.

The towns will also appoint members to a steering committee. The purpose of the steering committee is to help guide the climate action planning process and create a platform for public participation and feedback. The project steering committee will represent major community stakeholders including residents, elected officials and municipal staff, businesses, academia, nonprofits and other local interest groups.

A separate forthcoming announcement will provide additional details on how members of the public can become involved in the process.

In addition to Bangor and Orono, the communities are working to invite surrounding towns to formally participate in this joint municipal effort. The towns will also seek to formally engage the University of Maine, Husson University, the Bangor Area Comprehensive Transportation System and other partner institutions throughout this process.