By Rick Wackernagel*
On Tuesday, June 20, at a press conference in Burlington, Vermont Governor Phil Scott announced his intention to establish a Vermont Climate Change Commission. In making the announcement, Scott noted Vermont’s commitment to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and his administration’s commitment to meeting Vermont’s goals for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and expanding use of renewable energy. This Commission is his administration’s next step toward reaching these goals.
The Commission is based on Scott’s recognition that climate change is real and that we need a plan to address it. The purpose of the Commission will be to develop a “specific, responsible and realistic” plan for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in Vermont. Governor Scott looks to the Commission to identify and develop practical solutions that will enhance economic development, increase affordability and protect Vermont’s most vulnerable people. Innovation and making energy more affordable will be keys.
The plan’s targets will be to supply 90% of Vermont’s energy from renewable sources and to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 to 95%, both by 2050. The plan will take Vermont’s 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan as a starting point. It will include milestones along the way, and mechanisms for tracking progress and adjusting course based on results and changes in conditions.
The Commission will be drawn from the breadth of stakeholders in Vermont. Scott expects to issue an executive order to establish the Commission in the next 2 to 3 weeks.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger organized the press conference to announce the formation of a Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition to track Vermont’s contributions to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Coalition will invite Vermont municipalities, nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, businesses, and ordinary individual mortals to submit plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and intended reductions in emissions. The Coalition will also collect and aggregate reports of actions taken and their results.
*Itinerant climate activist, former extension farm-management specialist and Burlington resident.