Vermont Companies Support Employees’ Call for Urgent Climate Action

More than 100 workers descend on State House, press lawmakers to act on climate

Some of Vermont’s most iconic companies gave employees time off today to lobby policy makers at the Statehouse in Montpelier.  More than 100 employees met with elected officials and called on the Governor and the legislature to make climate change a priority in this legislative session and to pass a package of laws to ensure that Vermont meets its goals of a 40% reduction of GHG levels by 2030, and 80-95% reduction by 2050. The employees warned that Vermont’s failure to reduce carbon emissions is damaging to the economy, environment, and their way of life.

The employees represented a diverse cross-section of the Vermont workforce, coming from cities and towns across the state and representing a broad range of industry, including manufacturing, brewing, renewable energy, banking and financial services, value-added foods and recreation. Before a full day of meetings with lawmakers the workers filled the Cedar Creek room at the State House to capacity for a press conference, calling for transformative climate action and emphasizing the need for equitable solutions and investment in local renewable energy.

“The climate crisis is a business-critical issue that impacts the outdoor industry and our recreation communities here in Vermont and around the world,” said Jenn Swain, Global Senior Sustainability Manager at Burton Snowboards. “Vermont has fallen behind on its existing climate commitments. As a state that touts an environmental legacy and outdoor brand, it is well past time to take meaningful action. Burton urges Vermont’s lawmakers to pass systemic policy solutions that are equal to the severity of the climate crisis we all face.”

Speakers said that while their businesses are doing what they can, Vermont has a responsibility to do more to cut pollution in line with what world scientists say is required to avoid the catastrophic impacts of global warming. They argued that incremental action is insufficient and puts Vermont’s economy, public health, and quality of life at risk.

“Every one of us, individually and corporately, has an obligation to do what we can to help reduce carbon emissions,” said Daniel Yates, President and CEO at Brattleboro Savings and Loan. “In 2015 we purchased a solar array that produces enough electricity to meet 97.5% of our consumption. It doesn’t stop there though, and we are committed to doing all we can in pursuit of achieving a 28% reduction in climate pollution by 2025”.

Employees gathered at the State House were asking legislators to support four new policies this year: The Global Warming Solutions Act, committing to 100% renewable electricity by 2030, modernizing Vermont’s efficiency utilities, and joining the Transportation and Climate Initiative.

The Global Warming Solutions Act is legislation that turns Vermont’s climate goals into requirements, acting as a road map to reduce carbon emissions and create an accountability framework to put Vermont on a path to meeting our commitment to the Paris Climate Accord by 2025 and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“There has been incredible energy around climate action in the Vermont State House this year, and that energy has been building in the Vermont socially responsible businesses community for many years,” said Jordan Giaconia, Public Policy Manager for VBSR. “If the legislature is looking for inspiration on how to create opportunity from the climate crisis, they don’t need to look further than the businesses here today, who are working to advance solutions that recognize our shared responsibility to strengthen our economy and bring Vermont’s most vulnerable along in our climate future.”

“Our employees are as passionate about the need for climate action as our Co-Founders and CEO are,” said Chris Miller, Global Head of Activism Strategy at Ben & Jerry’s. “Last September, as part of the Global Climate Strike, Ben & Jerry’s employees around the United States took to the street to stand in solidarity with the youth leaders demanding action to address the climate emergency. Today was a chance for Ben & Jerry’s employees to bring that same message to Vermont’s lawmakers”.

“VPIRG is proud to support the efforts of businesses large and small across the state as they work to speed Vermont’s transition to an economy based on clean, affordable energy,” said Ben Edgerly Walsh, climate and energy program director for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG). “It’s great to see so many members of the business community calling on the Governor and their legislators to join them in their commitment to real climate action – and to support the policies necessary to make that a reality.”