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New England News

Vermont Climate Council Formulates Strategies To Draft A Climate Action Plan

Screenshot of the Vermont Climate Council virtual meeting
WAMC screenshot
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The Vermont Climate Council met this week to hear strategy recommendations from its subcommittees to implement the state’s Climate Action Plan.

The Climate Council was formed as part of the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020 to identify strategies to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and prepare the state to adapt to the impacts of climate change.  The council must adopt a Vermont Climate Action plan on or before December 1st and then update it every four years.

The council met virtually this week to review the recommended strategies from its Rural Resilience and Adaptation, Agriculture and Ecosystems and Cross-Sector Mitigation subcommittees.  Agency of Natural Resources Global Warming Solutions Act Project Director Jane Lazorchak called this suite of recommendations a milestone that will help the council adopt its initial Climate Action Plan.

“First and foremost this first Climate Action Plan needs to be and will be a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors in Vermont," Lazorchak said. "A complete climate action plan wouldn’t be in and of itself an emissions reduction plan without the complementary work of ag and ecosystems and rural resilience. Along the way we’ll encourage smart growth and related strategies. The work will also speak to the long-term sequestration, trying to get us to net-zero emissions by 2050 across all sectors as well as thinking about equity through reduced reduction of energy burdens for rural and marginalized communities and building and encourage climate adaptation and resilience in Vermont.”

Before the subcommittees offered their reports, Green Print Partners CEO April Mendez provided a presentation on integrating equity and inclusion in the climate action strategies.

“These are a few things that green infrastructure practitioners ought to be thinking about doing if they want to seriously embed equity in their work," Mendez said. "First make sure that their staff understand equity and are committed and equipped to advance it through their work. Secondly, and this is a big one, community members need to be essential partners and participants in all program, policy and project development. Taking gentrification and displacement risk seriously and addressing that proactively. And that all policy, program design, management and reporting are elevating equity and they’re driving transparency.”

During public comments Vermont Natural Resources Council Energy and Climate Program Associate Ian Hitchcock reiterated the weight local communities and volunteer groups will have in implementing the state’s climate plan.

“One of the key stumbling blocks for Vermont in making some of the great ideas and great plans we have on paper and great aspirations we have on statute reality is a fundamental lack of local capacity and a struggle for there to be resources getting to where they need," Hitchcock said. "I see this work as a very important opportunity to try to think about how we enhance local capacity. And then finally just a point about funding. Many of the fantastic adjectives that I heard about strengthening, connecting, implementing often come down to the almighty dollar. I hope that folks will be able to put some serious thought into how we make that money a reality to do some of this work.”

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