This year, Distinguished Maine Professor Ivan Fernandez was among many experts from the University of Maine that were asked to serve on Maine’s Climate Council. Some of the newly appointed members of the council include state leaders, science and technology experts, nonprofit leaders, municipal leaders, tribal representatives and a representative of Maine’s youth. Among these individual members on the council, there are many different working groups that will also be looked to for advice.
The Maine Climate Council was one of the first proposals of newly elected Gov. Janet Mills and was announced in April of 2019. This council’s mission is to research methods to reduce gases and other factors that contribute to climate change in the state of Maine. The purpose of having so many different members on the committee is to ensure that members from various communities around the state have representation at the council. By having so many voices on the council, people from around the state will be able to have access to information on the council’s motions, and will be able to have input on further actions of the council.
Fernandez of UMaine’s School of Forest Resources, the Climate Change Institute and the School of Food and Agriculture was asked to serve on the council because of his research background. Fernandez is a professor of soil and has focused a large amount of his research on the effects that the weather can have on Maine and climate control itself.
“I am one of two scientists appointed to the Maine Climate Council itself, as well as the co-chair of the Science and Technical Subcommittee (STS),” Fernandez said. “ As such, I will also participate in the Steering Committee. There are a number of other University of Maine faculty and staff involved as members of the STS as well as various working groups.”
He and other scientists will be working to find Maine based solutions to change the outcome of climate change in Maine, with the hope that this kind of research will spread to help others combat the effects of climate change.
“I have been involved with Maine climate initiatives for at least two decades, including those in agencies involved with climate change under the previous administration,” Fernandez said. “Those interactions continued in the Mills administration, and of course, Governor Mills moved Maine from falling way behind on climate change to jumping to the front of the line to lead.”
Work on climate change in Maine has been on the back burner for the past couple years, and with this new initiative put forth by Gov. Mills, Maine is in the process of catching up with other states, and may possibly take the lead in the fight against the debilitating effects of climate change. Fernandez believes that this will have a profound effect on the state of Maine as a whole. With this initiative, Maine may take the national lead on the research and implementation of efforts to combat the effects of climate change.
The climate council is comprised of members of the State Legislature, members of the Executive Branch of Maine’s government, and executive directors of the Maine Housing Authority and the Efficiency Maine Trust. There are also distinguished members of the Maine community with a background in climate science, experts on climate change adaptation and emergency management and various other members of the community with a vested interest in climate change management, such as farm and local business owners.