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Town Council declares climate emergency ahead of climate rally

December 6, 2019

In the lead up to today’s climate rally, Bowdoin Climate Action (BCA) co-leaders Perrin Milliken ’22 and Leif Maynard ’23 stressed the importance of acknowledging the urgency of the climate crisis at Monday night’s Brunswick Town Council meeting.

The council unanimously passed BCA’s proposed resolution, which declared an official climate emergency in Brunswick.

By agreeing to the proposal, Brunswick committed to work on developing an action plan that would potentially eliminate carbon emissions by 2030. The council also promises to forward the resolution to the Maine state legislature.

In the past month, climate advocacy in Maine has focused on passing climate emergency declarations at the municipal level in an effort to kickstart action around climate change at the state or national level. Brunswick became the fourth town council in Maine to pass a similar resolution, following South Portland, Bar Harbor and Portland.

Maynard noted that while passing the resolution establishes a new sense of urgency surrounding environmental issues, the resolution only represents the first step towards Brunswick addressing climate change. “We will continue to push [the Brunswick Town Council],” said Maynard in an interview.

“I hope that through the Planning Board and the action plan they’re developing, [Brunswick] will meet the goals we set in the resolution. Now it’s up to them, and up to us to pressure them to follow through,” Maynard continued.

Members of BCA are optimistic that with other town councils following suit, Maine will become the first state to declare a climate emergency.

The group is hosting a rally today at noon at the Brunswick Town Mall. The rally is taking place in conjunction with the Sunrise Movement’s plan for a nationwide protest at politicians’ offices today.

“[The purpose of the rally] is to expose the urgency of the crisis so that people are compelled to take action,” said Milliken. “We’re trying to make people realize it’s affecting Maine right now. It’s not just an issue of the future.”

While BCA focused its efforts on student outreach for the Global Climate Strike Rally held in late September, the leaders expanded their attention to the Brunswick community for this rally by hosting the event in the center of town and advertising to local schools and businesses with posters and emails.

BCA strove to include a variety of perspectives in the lineup of speakers at the rally. The speakers list will feature two Bowdoin students, a representative of the Citizens Climate Lobby, Visiting Assistant Professor of German Andrew Hamilton and John Newlin, a member of Growing to Give.

“I think the narrative that we’re trying to uphold is that we as a group are part of a bigger national network and movement, and this event is part … of what’s happening in the coming months,” said BCA co-leader Ayana Harscoet ’21.

Milliken sees the rally on Friday as a sort of “training” for rallies to come next year. She explained that it is crucial for people to not only attend today’s rally, but also continue to show up to events in the coming months.

“People need to make this a part of their life, otherwise it doesn’t matter,” said Milliken. “You need to keep coming back.”

Maynard said he wants members of the Bowdoin and Brunswick community to understand that their participation is the beginning of a “ripple.”

“It might not seem like Brunswick is a big deal. But once [the movement] grows, then we become the first state, and then pretty soon it’s national,” said Maynard.

Students will gather on the steps of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art at 11:45 a.m. today to walk to the rally on the Brunswick Town Mall. BCA leaders are encouraging participants to wear yellow.


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