Biddeford Climate Task Force
In October 2020, the City Council passed a Climate Emergency Resolution for the City of Biddeford. The Resolution highlighted the expected environmental effects of a warming planet and ocean, including a rising sea level and more frequent and severe coastal storms, and their projected economic costs, including damage to infrastructure, loss of coastal properties, loss of tourism, reduced fisheries, and negative health effects due to longer, warmer seasons.
Scientific consensus is that the effects of climate change will be irreversible within a short window of 7-15 years, and these effects will continue to worsen with time. The Mayor established the Climate Task Force to create an action plan that focuses on adaptation, mitigation and sustainability strategies that address the real effects of climate change that threaten our coastal community.
The Biddeford City Council formally adopted this Climate Emergency Resolution:
1) That there is irrefutable and overwhelming scientific evidence that our planet is warming due to greenhouse gas emissions.
2) That the Gulf of Maine temperature is warming at a rate 99% faster than the temperature of the global oceans.
3) That the coastal zones within the city shall be threatened by an increasing sea level rise of 8 inches to 6.6 feet by the end of this century² and these estimates could be significantly greater.
4) That the probability of increasing frequency and severity of coastal storms is high due to rising sea level and temperatures.
5) That economic costs due to the local effects of climate change have been projected to be very =significant and include:
- Damage and replacement of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, public buildings, water and sewage facilities.
- Relocation of private residences in coastal zones.
- Loss of commercial properties in coastal zones.
- Negative health effects due to longer, warmer seasons (Lyme Disease, Asthma, etc.)
- Reduced fisheries including lobster, shrimp, clams, oysters, scallops, and groundfish due to warming waters, ocean acidification, and invasive species such as the Green Crab.
- Loss of tourism
- Loss of tax-based municipal revenue due to property lost to inundation from sea level rise.
6) That the effects of climate change will be irreversible within a short window of 7 – 15 years and that these effects will continue to worsen.
It is therefore recommended that the City of Biddeford should develop a plan that will:
- Account for and publicly report our current climate risk and greenhouse gas footprint using a standardized methodology and reporting system.
- Address development of new construction in shoreland zones where such construction is in high risk areas.
- Develop an adaptation (infrastructure and policy changes to accommodate changes we are already experiencing) and mitigation (reduce emissions) strategy.
- The development of a timeline to move towards carbon neutrality in public buildings and public transportation.
- Collaborate with the state of Maine and surrounding towns to contribute to an efficient and effective regional plan that makes the best use of our collective resources. This may include a Sustainment Coordinator as a shared resource with other coastal communities.
- Work with educational institutions such as UNE to coordinate community educational outreach and engage other communities, schools, and non-profit organizations willing to participate.
The Biddeford Climate Task Force will continue to develop effective communication strategies regarding:
- Strengthening awareness of the Task Force
- General education and awareness about climate change and its effects
- Recommended Climate Actions the City can consider
The Task Force meets every second and fourth Monday of the month.
William EmhiserCouncil Representative
Jackie WatsonDirector of Energy Services, YCCAC