Climate change could have disastrous effects across the world, and here in the northeast U.S. too, if left unchecked. We’re already getting a preview.
The extent of climate change is linked to how much carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases (GHG) we emit into the atmosphere. In 2006, Vermont became one of the first states to set goals for reducing emissions of these gases. Vermont leaders have also committed to preparing for changes ahead.
We’ve made some progress, but success will take getting many more Vermonters involved. It’s up to every one of us.
On this page:
- Preventing The Worst With An Energy Revolution
- Preparing For A New Climate
- Prosperity For All Vermonters
- Where Things Stand
The goals legislators adopted in 2006 call for a 50% reduction of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions below their 1990 levels by 2028, and a 75% reduction by 2050.
Vermont’s 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan established new planning goals for reducing the emissions from our energy use. These goals are:
- 40% reduction below GHG levels in 1990 by 2030;
- 80% to 95% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050.
The new goals account for recommendations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about the level of emissions reduction needed worldwide to prevent the worst potential effects from climate disruption. They are also informed by Vermont’s Total Energy Study, which analyzed how quickly the state can transition to renewable energy.
Reaching Vermont’s climate goals will take changes in how we do things in many areas like agriculture, forestry, transportation, and waste management. But the most critical step is a clean energy revolution. We aim to get 90% of our energy from renewable sources by 2050.
We're behind at the moment, as you can see in the chart at the bottom of this page. But, we can still make it! Explore one workable path to getting there:
Some effects from climate change are now unavoidable. If we begin preparing for those effects now, we can minimize the cost and the disruption they will cause.
State agencies are also:
- Helping towns prepare for more rain and extreme storms by developing plans that protect residents and infrastructure.
- Protecting and restoring floodplains, wetlands and areas of contiguous forest that will buffer us from flooding, soak up pollutants, and help Vermont’s plants and animal adapt.
- Helping Vermonters prepare for more frequent heat waves and algae blooms, and increases in tick and mosquito-borne diseases.
- Ensuring the state and towns are prepared for emergencies.
Transitioning to clean energy will make Vermont more affordable, spark entrepreneurship, and put our economy on a long term path to prosperity.
- Jobs & Savings We spend about $2.3 billion each year to purchase petroleum products for heating and transportation. Three quarters of those dollars leave the state. If we achieve our goals, we’ll keep that money in our local economy, creating thousands of new jobs for Vermonters and $1000-2000 of annual energy savings for every household. As an affordable clean energy state, Vermont will be a preferred destination for businesses to start or relocate.
- Health When we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we will also reduce particulate emissions that cause asthma and other respiratory diseases.
- Reliable Energy The investment in our power grid and local generation sources will make Vermont less vulnerable to major New England grid outages. Vermonters heating with electricity or wood instead of oil will have more stable energy bills, and won’t need to worry about running out of fuel oil on winter days!
Vermont’s emissions have dropped since we first set climate goals in 2006. Warmer winters and the 2008 recession were factors, as well as the growing supply of renewable electricity, and energy improvements in residential and commercial buildings.
The chart below shows where emissions are today in relation to the climate goals in Vermont law and in the Comprehensive Energy Plan. To meet these goals, we must quicken the pace of emissions reductions.
Moving quickly to a clean energy economy is one of the best investments we can make in our future. See the steps you can take. Where will you start?