Why Climate Change Matters to Kennebunk
Incorporated in 1820, the Town of Kennebunk has a long history as a shipbuilding and trade center and later as a summer tourist destination. Lower Village—the town center—abuts the Kennebunk River and together with Kennebunk Beach and Gooch’s Beach these areas drive the local tourism and hospitality industry. Kennebunk also has a rich natural environment, much of which is protected by the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Bordered by the Gulf of Maine and tidal rivers, Kennebunk is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as sea level rise and flooding from coastal storms.
The Climate Action Plan Task Force will work to create an action plan that focuses on adaptation and emission reduction strategies that address the immediate and long-term effects of climate change that threaten our coastal community.
Kennebunk has a long history of leading climate initiatives, signing the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement in 2007 and resigning in 2014. Kennebunk also joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCOM) in 2018. Kennebunk completed a municipal greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory with the help of New School students in 2019 and completed a community-wide GHG inventory with the help of a UNH Sustainability Fellow in 2020. In 2019 Kennebunk helped create the SMPDC Regional Sustainability and Resilience Program and joined the State of Maine’s Community Resilience Partnership in 2022. Both programs present opportunities for regional and statewide collaboration as the town pursues its climate goals.
A recent regional economic resilience study found that Kennebunk’s economic centers, tourism infrastructure and destinations, significant travel routes, as well as public infrastructure and residential areas are at significant risk from coastal climate impacts. These include the Lower Village, the Town’s several beaches, State Route 9, and Beach Avenue.
Climate action at the local level will require behavioral and systemic changes to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The largest source of community-wide GHG emissions in Kennebunk comes from the consumption of food, goods, and services followed by passenger vehicle fuel use and residential and commercial energy use.
Climate Action Planning Documents
Climate Action Plan Task Force Members:
Chris Osterrieder, Director of Community Development
Bryan Laverriere, Director of Public Services
Mark Kerr, Conservation Commission Representative
Chris MacClinchy, Planning Board Representative
Maggie Bartenhagen, Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee Representative
Chris Pasciuto, RSU 21 Representative
Alison Malmqvist, Community Member
Lily Martin, Community Member
Lisa Pratt, Select Board Member