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The effects of climate change are starting to feel closer every year.

From hotter days to more intense storms, Vermont’s climate patterns are clearly shifting and impacting our state. If action isn’t taken soon, we’ll see even bigger changes to the places we love, including our waterways, woods and farms.

Climate change doesn’t just impact the outdoor spaces we enjoy visiting. Vermont’s infrastructure and the health of our communities are threatened by extreme heat and severe storms. Factors like wetter winters and springs, a faster spring thaw, and more intense rainfall could contribute to increased flooding across Vermont. Intense rainfall can be particularly hazardous when it falls on soils that are already waterlogged, as was the case with Hurricane Irene in 2011 (Vermont Climate Assessment, 2021).

While climate change affects everyone, some people face greater risks due to race, ethnicity, income, disability, health, age and occupation.

How much of a risk does climate change pose for Vermont?

The last decade was the warmest on record and the impacts are already being felt from more high heat days and increasingly severe storms. Temperatures may rise 2-3.6°F in Vermont by 2050.

If we don’t act soon, Vermont’s summers will be similar to northwest Georgia, with more than 17 days a year exceeding 95℉ by 2080. Average rainfall will also increase during the winter and summer months. Here’s what we’re facing:

  • More rain and flooding: Rain will increase and become more frequent and intense, particularly in mountainous areas, where people can expect an 80% increase in river flooding, threatening homes, businesses, infrastructure, communication, and transportation systems.
  • Changes to Farming and Sugaring: Rising temperatures will increase the freeze-free growing season in the Northeast by two to three weeks by the middle of this century (Dupigny-Giroux et al. 2018). As ice and snow melt earlier in the spring, longer and warmer summers could lead to more evaporation, which could favor more frequent summer droughts, impacting both the agriculture sector and sugaring season in early spring. Rising temperatures can also lead to heat-stress for livestock.
  • Health concerns: Respiratory conditions, heat-related illnesses, extreme weather-related injuries and tick and mosquito-borne diseases are likely to become more common.
  • Not everyone is impacted equally: People who live in homes without air conditioning, those who work outside, elderly Vermonters, individuals with disabilities, low-income communities, BIPOC communities and people who lack housing will face much higher risks from climate change impacts if we don’t act soon.