Vermont Business Leaders Converge on Montpelier to Call for Action on Climate Change
Business Leaders call on Legislators to support rapid transition away from fossil fuels and to the clean energy economy of the future.
Montpelier, VT (April 22, 2016) –Executives from some of Vermont’s most iconic brands and companies converged in Montpelier on Earth Day to call on legislators to support a speedy transition to the low carbon economy of the future. New science suggests that the impacts from climate change may come sooner and be more destructive than previous climate models predicted.
Representatives from Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Seventh Generation, Danforth Pewter, the Alchemist Brewery, Capstone Community Action, and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) held a State House press conference Friday morning highlighting the economic and environmental opportunities for Vermont in moving away from fossil fuels.
The coalition also announced that more than 500 businesses have signed Energy Independent Vermont’s petition in support of establishing a state-based carbon pollution tax as a mechanism of moving Vermonters off of fossil fuels.
“Tackling climate change is mission-critical for Seventh Generation in caring for the next seven generations,” said John Replogle, CEO of Seventh Generation. “You can’t live a healthy life on a sick planet. It’s imperative that we lead the way in taking actionable steps to slow the climate crisis.”
Recent reports suggest the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is already underway, but it’s not just far off places that are experiencing changes. Vermont’s most recent winter was the warmest on record for the continental United States, breaking temperature records in both Burlington and Montpelier. These disturbing trends pose a profound threat to Vermont, its economy, and its companies.
“This issue is personal for us”, said Jostein Solheim, CEO of Ben & Jerry’s “Not only is our brand so closely associated with Vermont’s reputation for a healthy and wholesome environment, but we’re also a food company that sources ingredients like cocoa, coffee, and vanilla, from places that are some of the most at risk from a warming planet. That’s why I am urging policy makers to ensure that Vermont is leader, not a laggard on policies that support a transition away from fossil fuels and toward a clean energy future.”
“Across the country leading companies have committed to finding innovative ways to integrate sustainability into business practices,” said Jen Kimmich, the co-owner of The Alchemist Brewery. “By making this commitment, we are finding economic opportunity through investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency, water efficiency, waste recapture and sustainable sourcing. We are already reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using less energy, choosing clean energy and investing in new technologies. We are also recognizing that these practices help grow our businesses, create jobs and strengthen our economy.”
“One way or another, humanity is going to stop using fossil fuels,” said Bram Kleppner, the CEO of Danforth Pewter. “Either we stop using fossil fuels when we run out, and we’re forced to move to 100% renewable energy, or we move to 100% renewables before we’ve used up all the coal, gas and oil. In other words, either we put the maximum possible amount of carbon into the air, or we only put part of the carbon into the air and we leave some of it in the ground. Humanity’s future security and prosperity are directly proportional to how much we leave in the ground.”
Dan Hoxworth, the executive director of Capstone Community Action said he supports a carbon tax because the funds will be used to help low-income Vermonters transition away from fossil fuels for transportation and home-heating and to reduce the sales tax, which disproportionately affects this population.
“Climate change is a quadruple threat to the lives of the most economically vulnerable Vermonters,” Hoxworth said. “First, they often live in areas most at risk during severe weather events. Secondly, their housing is the least able to protect them from severe weather events. Thirdly, they take longest time to recover from severe weather events, if they ever do. Finally, fuel price volatility destabilizes the already precarious finances of low income families.”
ABOUT THE EARTH DAY OF ACTION:
Friday’s press conference coincided with the coalition’s event, Earth Day of Action: The People’s Lobby Day, which saw more than 70 employees from Seventh Generation, Ben & Jerry’s, and other Vermont businesses visit the State House and meet with their state representatives and senators to discuss clean energy and environmental policies, including the carbon pollution tax, low-income weatherization, renewable energy siting, and fossil fuel divestment.
“Today we are celebrating Earth Day by highlighting how Vermont can grow our economy and reduce pollution by embracing a fossil fuel-free future,” said Daniel Barlow, the public policy manager at VBSR. “This was also an excellent opportunity to tell employees from some of the state’s top businesses about the good work being done at the State House on clean energy – and to encourage our legislators to stay on this path.”
Founded in 1990, VBSR is a statewide, non-profit business association with a mission to advance business ethics that value multiple bottom lines: economic, social, and environmental. Through education, public influence, and workplace quality, VBSR strives to help 760+ members set a high standard for protecting the natural, human, and economic environments of the state’s residents, while remaining profitable. Learn more or join the cause at www.vbsr.org.
Energy Independent Vermont is a growing coalition of environmental organizations, Vermont businesses and business associations, academic leaders, low-income advocates and Town Energy Committees all dedicated to a simple goal: address the problem of climate change by putting a price on pollution here in Vermont. www.energyindependentvt.or