By Andrew Blunt, Anna Siegel and Cassie Cain, Leaders in the Maine Youth for Climate Justice coalition.
Maine Youth for Climate Justice (MYCJ) is urging South Portland to designate $1,000,000 and Portland to designate $2,000,000 to a newly created Climate Sustainability Fund in each of the two cities.
These funds would come from the federal government’s ARP program which will provide approximately $48 million to Portland and $3.5 million to South Portland over the next two years. The funding request is a “parking lot” item for the South Portland City Council meeting on May 7th. Portland’s City Council will be holding a public budget meeting on May 17th, according to a press release issued by MYCJ today.
This coalition of over 300 youth from all over Maine calls upon both city councils to:
Reaffirm their commitment to the implementation of the One Climate Future Plan and to do so in the framework of the Climate Emergency Declaration,
Recognize that the cities need to build capacity within their organizations to move from the planning stages to implementation, and
Recognize that there is a need to jump-start the One Climate Future Plan by creating a separate fund, the Climate Sustainability Fund, starting with a down payment of $1,000,000 in South Portland and $2,000,000 in Portland.
Just a little over a year ago, the statewide coalition MYCJ urged the Portland and South Portland City Councils to pass a resolution declaring that their citizens were facing a climate emergency. This resolution stated in order to achieve a livable and equitable future, carbon emissions must be drastically reduced by 2030. Shortly thereafter, both cities unanimously passed the Climate Emergency Resolutions and adopted the One Climate Future Plan, a transformational 300-page document calling for the implementation of 163 climate projects in each community.
The two cities have laid out bold actions to deal with the climate crisis. Now, he next step is implementation which will require the allocation of significant funding. Due to this, MYCJ and adult allies in 350 Maine, are urging the cities of Portland and South Portland to use a portion of the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding earmarked for municipal budgets to jump-start the implementation of their joint One Climate Plan. These funds would come from the federal government’s ARP relief program which will provide approximately $48 million to Portland and $2.5 million to South Portland dover the next two years. The Portland City Manager indicates that 448 million of ARP funding will be allocated to Portland over the next two years. But, he has only allocated $17 million in his budget estimates. This leaves a balance of $31 million of unspent federal funds. According to the National League of Cities, South Portland will be receiving $2.5 million in ARP funding. None of this has been allocated to the Fiscal Year (FY 2022 budget).
MYCT is a coalition of over 300 youth from all over Maine who fight for bold climate action, a just transition and a livable future. Our goal is to create a space for youth who are concerned about the climate crisis to connect, be in community and make change. Acknowledging that the climate action is rooted in systemic forms of oppression and disproportionately impacts marginalized communities, MYCJ aims to center the voices of folx ho have been historically excluded from narratives around climate activism, in addition to the political conversation.