A red-winged blackbird dive bombs a great egret that may have been encroaching on the smaller bird's nesting area at the Scarborough Marsh in Scarborough, Maine, Sunday, June 17, 2012. Maine's marshes are an important puzzle piece in understanding changes to the state's climate and the state's carbon budget. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / BDN

Maine is on track to meet its long-term climate goals, according to a new report released by the Maine Department of Environmental Protections on Thursday.

The report shows that Maine has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels as of 2019, which is in line with the state’s goals to reduce emissions to 45 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030. The state has also reached about 75 percent carbon neutrality, and has produced emissions that have consistently been at least 10 percent lower than 1990 levels since 2016, according to the report.

Maine has statutory goals to become 100 percent reliant on sustainable and renewable energy by 2050, achieve complete carbon neutrality by 2045 and reduce emissions in 2050 to 80 percent lower than they were in 1990.

Greenhouse gas emissions data show that of the gross emissions in Maine, 91 percent are caused by energy consumption and use of fossil fuels. While emissions from transportation were 8 percent lower in 2019 than they were in 1990, vehicle use made up 49 percent of Maine’s fossil fuel-driven carbon dioxide emissions.

Industrial processes contributed 4 percent of emissions in 2019, and the waste sector, which includes emissions from solid waste treatment and wastewater treatment processes, contributed 3 percent of emissions. The agricultural sector, which includes data on emissions from various livestock and resource management practices, contributed just 2 percent of emissions.

“Maine is making welcome progress in reducing harmful carbon emissions and in curbing our reliance on expensive fossil fuels,” Mills said. “With Maine’s climate plan, we will continue to partner with communities, businesses and people across Maine to further reduce emissions, protect and preserve our environment, and strengthen our economy for future generations.”

The report also highlighted the importance of Maine’s wetlands, forests and fields in the process of understanding the life cycle of Maine’s emissions and the state’s carbon budget. Wetlands, forests and fields are important features that help to sequester carbon and allow researchers to better understand where emissions are having the most impact in Maine’s environment, according to the report.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.