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Climate Action Councils in New York and Vermont hold public forums

WAMC/Pat Bradley
Wind turbines

Climate Action Councils in both New York and Vermont held public meetings this week.

The New York Climate Action Council is holding a series of meetings related to its work on a scoping plan to meet statewide climate goals. Meanwhile the Vermont Climate Council is continuing discussions on how it plans to meet its Climate Action Plan.

The New York plan was released at the end of December 2021 and is now in the public comment phase. Council Executive Director Sarah Osgood said the state has set very ambitious and necessary greenhouse gas reduction requirements with a goal of a carbon neutral economy and 100 percent zero emissions electricity by 2040.

“Several key strategies emerged as fundamental to achieving the greenhouse gas emissions limits and net zero greenhouse gas emissions requirements. Those include energy efficiency, transitioning from fossil fuels to electrification in buildings, zero emissions electricity, transportation electrification, enhancement of transit and smart growth and a reduction of vehicle miles traveled, maximizing carbon sequestration in New York’s lands and forests and carbon capture technologies for certain industrial applications.”

Comments were mixed and came from diverse sectors. Wild Roots Farm co-owner Iris Gillingham told the council the Catskills have been seeing the effects of climate change for years.

“If we want to be able to feed New York state in the coming future that means we really need to take action. It’s not the time to be pushing for false solutions like selling carbon offsets to polluters. I like to call them dangerous distractions because that’s all they are. We know that renewable energy is possible in New York. I grew up on a farm that is entirely solar powered and it works well. And I know that this incredible opportunity right now to take action. So please do it.”

The Vermont Climate Council also held a public forum this week on its progress toward meeting the provisions of the state’s 2020 Global Warming Solutions Act. It requires greenhouse gas emissions to be 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Council member Sue Minter says the action plan also addresses the comprehensive nature of addressing the climate challenge.

“And to address seven objectives: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, encouraging smart growth, achieving long-term sequestration and storage of carbon, achieving net zero emissions by 2050, reducing energy burdens, limiting the use of chemicals, building and encouraging climate adaptation and resilience. And climate action really requires a three pronged approach. We’ve got the emission reductions, but also developing strategies for adapting to and building resilience throughout our state as well as sequestration of the emissions.”

The New York Climate Action Council will continue in person and virtual meetings through mid-May. A final plan must be finalized by January 1, 2023.

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