In 2020, the Vermont Legislature created the Climate Council and required them to develop a Climate Action Plan. The initial plan was released in December 2021, and lays out a suite of investment and policy initiatives necessary to drive down climate pollution and meet our Global Warming Solutions Act targets; strengthen our communities’ resilience; and ensure equity is front and center in how we prioritize and shape policies and investment strategies. Vermont has both a legal and moral obligation to cut climate pollution in a just way, and at a pace that recognizes the scale and severity of the climate emergency. While the Climate Action Plan requires additional refinement and input — particularly from historically marginalized Vermonters — the Legislature has clear direction on what we need to do to transform our energy systems. There is also an enormous opportunity to create thousands of good paying union jobs and keep billions of dollars flowing in our local economies. With unprecedented federal funding available, we have a historic opportunity to get to work implementing the solutions laid out in the Climate Action Plan, which will help all Vermonters benefit from the clean energy economy.
2022 Legislative Priorities:
- Invest at least $150 million in FY23 in climate initiatives.
- These investments will help people and local communities access more equitable and clean energy solutions. With combined resources from the American Rescue Plan Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds, and General Fund revenues, we must make long overdue, historic investments in climate action, take full advantage of federal programs, invest in capacity of state government and partner organizations, invest in grid modernization and electric service upgrades, and build the workforce necessary to transform our economy.
- Adopt the Transportation Innovation Act.
- By investing approximately $75 million above baseline annual spending in clean transportation solutions, we can help more Vermonters — particularly low and moderate income folks — access electric and higher-efficiency vehicles, strengthen programs like Complete Streets and our transportation networks to make it easier to get around without a vehicle, continue fare-free public transportation, and ultimately transition to a truly clean, ultra-low-carbon transportation system.
- Enact an Environmental Justice law.
- This bill, among other important components, requires State agencies to incorporate environmental justice into their work, establishes an Advisory Council on Environmental Justice within the Agency of Natural Resources, and requires the creation of an environmental justice mapping tool. This bill will be an important step towards achieving meaningful community engagement in environmental decisions – particularly among overburdened communities and vulnerable populations. With this bill, we also have the opportunity to prioritize state investments to these communities. Lawmakers will also need to advance additional policies and investments being developed by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders, including Green Justice Zones, the BIPOC Land Access and Opportunity Act, and other climate justice initiatives.
- Advance clean, affordable, and efficient heating solutions.
- Advance a Clean Heat Standard. This may be the single most impactful policy to reduce climate pollution in the Climate Action Plan. If it is designed to accurately and transparently reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this may be the single most impactful policy to reduce climate pollution in the Climate Action Plan. The Clean Heat Standard could play an essential role in transitioning our heating sector to clean and affordable solutions.
- Weatherization for All. The Climate Council established a goal of weatherizing 90,000 additional homes over the next nine years. This will require a significant increase in funding for incentives for low and moderate-income Vermonters, as well as workforce development.
- Incentivize electrification. While the state develops a Clean Heat Standard, we should provide additional incentives to help more people access technologies like cold climate heat pumps and heat pump water heaters.
- Invest in clean energy and efficiency for municipalities. We should provide support and award grants and loans to municipalities to improve their energy efficiency and replace fossil fuel heating systems with low-carbon and efficient heating systems.
- Update the Renewable Energy Standard to require far more new renewable energy.
- To fully realize the benefits of a transformed energy economy, Vermont must overhaul our Renewable Energy Standard to significantly accelerate our transition to new renewable energy – especially renewables built right here in Vermont. We need to dramatically increase requirements for new and local renewable energy generation, phase out polluting energy sources, ensure greenhouse gas emissions are fully and accurately accounted for, make clean energy accessible to all, and invest in energy storage and grid resilience.
- Invest in workforce development for the clean energy sector.
- By investing in programs now, we can build the workforce we will need to ramp up weatherization programs, upgrade electrical systems, install heat pumps and other clean heating solutions, and modernize our transportation system.