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Vermont Climate Coalition Holds Webinar To Update Advocates On Vermont Climate Action Plan

View of Vermont looking south from Mt. Philo
Pat Bradley
View of Vermont looking south from Mt. Philo

The Vermont Climate Council is holding a series of public comment sessions on a proposed state Climate Action Plan. As state officials collect feedback on the draft plan, the Vermont Climate Coalition held a virtual webinar Monday to provide an update and help advocates prepare their comments.

The Global Warming Solutions Act passed by the Vermont Legislature in 2020 mandates that the state reduce greenhouse gases produced within the state by 26 percent of 2005 emissions by 2025 and by 40 percent of 1990 emissions by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. The legislation created the Vermont Climate Council to identify strategies; achieve reduction requirements and build resilience.

The Vermont Climate Coalition hosted a webinar on Monday to hear from members of the Climate Action Council. Energy Action Network Executive Director Jared Duval, co-chair of the Climate Council’s Science and Data Subcommittee, explained its work.

“The initial Climate Action Plan is due by December 1st. All of the subcommittees are right now surfacing their draft recommendations, are incorporating some of the public feedback and input that is happening through these public engagement sessions," said Duval. "I will also say though because I think that it’s underappreciated that the council is meant to exist on an ongoing basis. And we have a responsibility not just to develop this initial Climate Action Plan but to put forward future revisions to that plan and to develop subsequent plans.”

The council was legislatively required to create specific subcommittees: rural resilience and adaptation; cross-sector mitigation; just transitions; and agriculture and ecosystems. But it could form more.

Council member and Vermont Natural Resources Council Energy and Climate Program Director Johanna Miller says not all the issues they are working on fit neatly into the prescribed categories.

“And that really relates to finding and financing. How are we going to pay for these things? And then also setting really important frameworks like an environmental justice policy and community groups that are fundamental to actually making these recommendations actionable on the ground.”

A Just Transitions committee has been tasked with helping with public engagement. The council’s small business representative Kelly Klein, owner of Groennfell Meadery, said they must also make sure that policies and proposals from the other committees assure equity.

“We tried to do our best to get the most diverse group of people we could. And so with this wonderful group of people the biggest thing that we worked on was putting together principles for a just transition. Some guiding principles that the other committees can use as they’re developing recommendations to do a bit of a gut check and say are we, are we going to put undue burdens on various different groups or is this going to be a good policy that’s going to uplift people who have been burdened in the past?”

Vermont Public Interest Research Group Climate and Energy Program Director Ben Edgerly Walsh moderated the webinar. He says environmental and advocacy groups are pressing the council to create a plan that will achieve specific actions.

“The plan needs to cut carbon pollution across Vermont’s economy in line with the Solutions Act’s requirements and what climate science demands. Two, the plan needs to do that equitably so that everyone benefits from this transition. And then number three the plan needs to support real significant long term funding sources so that one and two can actually happen," said Edgerly Walsh. "We need to be really focused on the data, the science behind not just carbon pollution but also advancing equity.”

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