Vermonters know that global warming is our largest threat and climate action is our greatest opportunity. We share a responsibility to reduce the pollution that is driving global warming while strengthening our economy, protecting public health, and advancing equity.
Calls for urgent action to reduce climate pollution have been issued by the world’s climate scientists, all levels of government, business leaders and medical professionals, religious communities and low-income advocates – and most clearly of all, by young Vermonters who will either live with the costly consequences of a forever altered planet or prosper in a transformed, resilient future.
The stakes could not be higher. Vermonters are already experiencing the negative impacts of a warming world. Mild winters and early springs are straining our economy, putting our farming, forestry, maple sugaring, and winter sports economies at risk. More frequent and intense storms are causing costly damage. Warmer average temperatures are diminishing water quality, degrading critical wildlife habitat, and dramatically increasing the number of tick and mosquito-borne diseases while invasive plant species thrive, affecting crops and forests.
The public health consequences of global warming have led the World Health Organization to declare climate change as “the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.”
We must advance equity by investing in our clean energy future. The injustice of the climate crisis is that those least responsible for pollution are the most susceptible to the dangers of an unhealthy planet. Around the world and in Vermont, climate catastrophes often affect marginalized communities first and worst — as we saw when mobile home parks across the state were devastated in Tropical Storm Irene. We can protect those most vulnerable to climate change by strategically investing in clean energy solutions and public infrastructure — and by harnessing the power of our natural systems both to sequester and store carbon and to foster climate resilient communities.
We cannot afford inaction. A continued reliance on fossil fuels will lead to increasing damage and more costly consequences in the future. There are clean, local, affordable energy solutions available now. Investing in these solutions will put Vermonters to work in 21st-century clean energy jobs, and retain far more of the $1.5 billion that Vermont sends out of state every year to pay for imported fossil fuels. In doing so, we can also build on the success of existing programs we have long benefitted from, like Low Income Weatherization. We can expand workforce opportunities, lower cost burdens, improve building efficiency, and more.
Vermont has a responsibility to do our part on global warming. While we have made some progress, we are far from meeting our own statutory climate action commitments. In fact, recent studies show that Vermont is the only state in New England whose climate emissions remain above our 1990 levels. State leaders from every political party have said they support Vermont meeting the 2025 climate pollution reduction targets established in the Paris Climate Accord, and hitting Vermont’s 2050 climate pollution targets.
We can and must make serious steps to reduce climate pollution emissions and hit these targets. We need to look to both local and regional solutions. Doing so will create more energy independence, enhance public health, improve the lives of low-income Vermonters, and sustain our farms and forests.
Click here to read our Climate Action Plan for 2020, which we developed as part of a coalition of 30 advocacy groups.
2020 Legislative Priorities:
- Enact a Global Warming Solutions Act to give state government the authority and responsibility to meet our climate commitments, including the Paris Climate Accord targets in 2025, and net zero in 2050.
- Institute a 100% Renewable Energy Standard and significantly increase the requirement for newly built renewables in state.
- Modernize our energy efficiency utilities, including Efficiency Vermont, by continuing to invest in electric efficiency to save all Vermonters money while expanding their scope to focus on climate pollution, helping Vermonters reduce energy use and switch to efficient, electric heating and transportation.
- Participate in a strong, equitable Transportation & Climate Initiative, and invest in programs to incentivize electric vehicle adoptions, development of charging facilities, and clean transit to ensure all Vermonters can access clean transportation options.