VBSR’s Priorities for Vermont’s Climate Action Plan
The Global Warming Solutions Act that VBSR members pushed so hard to get into law last year requires Vermont to make significant cuts in climate pollution by 2025 – and much bigger cuts by 2030 and beyond. To guide our state toward a greener future, the newly formed Vermont Climate Council has been working to create a climate action plan to meet our emissions requirements, prioritize our most vulnerable communities, and build a stronger, more resilient economy. Here are some of VBSR’s key priorities that we are pushing for in the Climate Action Plan…
Invest in career training, job growth, and other vocational programs expand Vermont’s clean energy workforce
If we’re going to achieve Vermont’s greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements, we need to equip Vermonters with the skills to install clean energy solutions, electrify our transportation system, weatherize homes, build green buildings, and manage our farms, forests, and waterways. Let’s focus on growing our climate workforce and creating new, family sustaining jobs through programs that invest in vocational training, service learning, and other educational opportunities.
Drastically cut emissions from Vermont’s transportation sector
Transportation accounts for 40% of Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions—namely because of our state’s above average vehicle
miles traveled and the fact that 94% of our transportation is powered by fossil fuels. Our outdated transportation system has resulted in disproportionately higher transit costs for rural and low-income Vermonters; channeled billions of dollars out of our state’s economy; and created major barriers for those looking to get an education or enter the workforce. We need to engage in regional carbon control programs like the Transportation & Climate Initiative Program and invest in improved public transit, walking and biking infrastructure, smart growth, charging stations, and other projects to support transportation justice, EV deployment, and clean air. When taken together, these solutions promise to put less pollution in our air and more money in Vermonters’ pockets.
Invest in healthy, safe, and efficient homes and businesses
Vermont’s thermal (heating) sector is our second highest source of climate pollution, encompassing 34% of our total emissions. With most of our thermal energy use powered by fossil fuels (74%), tackling the climate crisis means rethinking the way we heat our homes and businesses. The silver lining is that Vermont’s electricity portfolio is around 93% carbon free, so switching to a more efficient electric option, such as heat pumps, is an effective way to slash emissions. Meanwhile, weatherizing our housing stock can reduce energy burdens for low-to-moderate income Vermonters, promote public health, keep more dollars circulating in our local economies, and create thousands of livable jobs across the state.
Increase access to clean, renewable energy
While Vermont has made significant strides toward reducing our fossil fuel consumption and moving toward energy
independence, our current energy framework and laws have not kept up with neighboring states. Expanding the pace and scale of Vermont’s renewable energy procurement is necessary grow our economy and restore our standing as a dynamic, innovative “green” state. That includes instituting a 100% Renewable Energy Standard to power Vermont with clean electricity, improve grid resilience, and dramatically increase our local renewable generation. When it comes to Vermont’s electricity needs, buying local would offer significant wealth generating opportunities, create good paying jobs, and ensure that the communities, economy, and grid infrastructure are better prepared for the impacts of climate change.
Center environmental justice and equity to ensure a Just Transition
The effects of both climate change and our lingering reliance on fossil fuels disproportionately impacts BIPOC, low income, rural, and other marginalized Vermonters. From increased energy burdens and health complications to housing and food insecurity, these just a few of the challenges hundreds of thousands of Vermonters face each day in our fossil-fueled economy. Meanwhile these same communities are the first to feel the impacts of the climate crisis—including increased storm intensity, heavier rainfall, higher temperatures, and poor air quality. If we’re going to create a just, thriving economy that works for all Vermonters, then our little state cannot ignore these longstanding inequities any longer. We must Adopt a statewide Environmental Justice policy, one that requires State agencies to include environmental justice in every facet of their work, promotes accountability using sound data collection and mapping, and places a stronger emphasis on equitable, transparent community consultation.
VBSR is working diligently with business leaders, issue experts, and advocacy partners to make sure Vermont’s Climate Action Plan not only addresses the growing climate crisis but taps into the economic, job-creating potential climate action provides. There’s still much more work to be done before the December deadline and we’ll need the voices of socially responsible business leaders like you to maintain the momentum we’ve built in recent years. Click here to learn how you can help shape Vermont’s clean energy future!