UNE will lead Maine in global climate change dialogue on April 7

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As part of its commitment to environmental stewardship, the University of New England will join a global conversation about fighting climate change by hosting the Maine “Solve Climate by 2030 Dialog” on Wednesday, April 7, from 6 to 8 p.m.

UNE will lead the state in hosting the virtual event, which will feature a non-partisan “climate solutions” panel on the topic of “Green Recovery, Climate Solutions and a Just Transition.” The panel will be composed of local climate experts who will discuss concrete steps to move the needle on climate change.

Maine panelists include:

  • Hannah Pingree, Governor's Office of Policy Innovation and the Future
  • Maulian Dana, Penobscot Nation ambassador 
  • Ania Wright, Sierra Club Maine
  • David Costello, Natural Resources Council of Maine

A discussion and Q&A moderated by Charles Tilburg, Ph.D., academic director of the UNE School of Marine and Environmental Programs, will follow the panel.

The dialogue is one of more than 100 such events taking place in 50 countries worldwide and in each U.S. state as part of the Solve Climate by 2030 project. Led by Bard College, the project aims to encourage states to engage in ambitious but feasible actions to tackle climate change.

These university-hosted webinars will cover topics critical to their respective regions. Climate-concerned university and high school faculty worldwide, and across disciplines, will use the webinars for homework and as a springboard for discussing regional climate solutions as part of the initiative #MakeClimateaClass, designed to engage and empower young people in the fight against climate change.

“Young people do not need doom and gloom. They, and we, need to be able to imagine and work toward a better future,” said Bethany Woodworth, Ph.D., associate teaching professor in the School of Marine and Environmental Programs. “This dialogue among Maine climate leaders, young people, and the community is designed to guide us on that path.”

Mitigating climate change directly ties into UNE’s mission of improving the health of people, communities, and the planet.

The University’s first Climate Action Plan, adopted in 2010, calls for the University to become carbon neutral by 2040, and, in 2015, UNE became one of the few institutions in the northeast to academically engage undergraduate students in climate change topics by offering an interdisciplinary minor in Climate Change Studies.

Recently, a documentary by UNE’s Office of Communications, “Reckoning with Climate Change in the Gulf of Maine,” released in 2020, took the title of Best Environmental Short at the Environmental Film and Screenplay Festival.

The documentary features UNE scientists and faculty members from the School of Marine and Environmental Programs and examines several issues important to the state of Maine, including why the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the rest of the world’s oceans; the impact of climate change on the state’s lucrative lobster industry; the introduction of new creatures never seen in Maine waters before; and what all of this will mean for future generations, among other heady topics.

Additionally, the “Solve Climate by 2030 Dialog” is one of several events taking place at UNE in April as part of Earth Month.

Other initiatives include an energy competition that encourages students in residence halls to reduce their electricity usage; scavenger hunts to engage students in learning about sustainable development initiatives; a pop-up thrift shop; a campus and garden clean-up; removal of invasive plant species; guest lectures with beekeepers and climate activists; and Earth Day celebrations.

All events have the goal of engaging students in collaborative activities that promote sustainability solutions, offers Alethea Cariddi, assistant director of Sustainability.

"Sustainable solutions require collaborative efforts, and the UNE Sustainability Office seeks campus and community partnerships,” said Cariddi. “There is no single silver bullet that is going to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Instead, it will take a diversity of ideas, and we need work collaboratively to bring them to life.”

The April 7 Maine Climate Solutions Panel is free and open to the public. To attend the event and for more information, please visit: https://www.une.edu/events/2021/maine-climate-solutions-webinar