Vermont Business Magazine The Energy Action Network (EAN) Wednesday released a major new report summarizing what Vermont can learn from the “Cap and Invest” approach that has been successfully used by Quebec, California, and nine northeastern states to reduce climate pollution while helping to grow local economies. A “Cap and Invest” system has been in use since 2009 in Vermont, along with eight other northeastern states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), to reduce pollution from the electric sector and make investments in more efficient, clean, and affordable energy use. Unlike some other states and provinces, however, Vermont has not yet applied the “Cap and Invest” framework to fossil fuel pollution outside of the electric sector.
This makes significant progress towards greenhouse gas reductions difficult since the bulk of Vermont’s total emissions come from the transportation and heating sectors (71%). Vermont has already missed one greenhouse gas goal and is likely to miss others as emissions have risen in recent years, according to a state report released last summer.
“One thing is clear: If Vermont is going to meet its energy and emissions reduction commitments, we need to focus on all energy sectors, not just electricity generation,” said Jared Duval, Executive Director of EAN. “This paper expands our understanding of an important economy-wide approach to emissions reduction and green economic growth that is working across North America today.”
According to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources greenhouse gas inventory report from July 2018, the most recent 2013 report showed that in years 2014 and 2015, despite strong state goals and a focus on transforming our energy system – our electricity system in particular – Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased dramatically. Since the last analysis, GHG’s have risen by 10 percent; cumulatively now up 16 percent from the statutory target of 1990 levels. The report highlights, in particular, that the unregulated fuel sectors – transportation and residential, commercial and industrial fuel use – are the two most GHG intensive sectors.
VBM Stories July 2018:
The lead author of the new EAN report is Karen Glitman, Senior Manager for Market Development and Policy with the Center for Sustainable Energy and an EAN Senior Fellow. Glitman said, “Cap and Invest policies work by capping GHG emissions and investing in programs that, when properly designed, help the economy transition as cost-effectively, equitably, and quickly as possible to a clean energy economy.”
The new report follows the March release of EAN’s Annual Progress Report for Vermont, which showed that greenhouse gas emissions, the leading driver of the destabilization of the climate, have increased 16% in Vermont since 1990, despite legislation and administration commitments to reduce those emissions. Notably, most of the state’s climate pollution spike came from increasing fossil fuel use in the energy sectors of transportation and heating.
By contrast, the Cap and Invest report demonstrates how Quebec and California, members of the Western Climate Initiative, have successfully reduced their climate pollution below 1990 levels, while making targeted investments to benefit lower and middle-income people with more efficient, clean, and affordable energy sources. They achieved this through a cap and invest system that capped emissions from their transportation and heating sectors, in addition to electricity. The report highlights that only 10% of Vermont’s emissions are from the electric sector.
EAN’s Progress Report also highlights that Vermont’s dependence on 100% imported fossil leaves Vermonters subject to the highest cost fuels for heating and transportation: propane, fuel oil, diesel, and gasoline. Fossil fuels drain approximately $2 billion per year out of the state economy. When Vermonters heat their homes and get around with more efficient and renewable options, from advanced wood heating systems to cold climate heat pumps to electric vehicles, the State estimates that anywhere from two to four times more of our energy dollars stay local and re-circulate in-state, benefiting our neighbors and helping to grow the Vermont economy.
“We know we must reduce pollution, make transportation and heating more affordable, and grow the Vermont economy. The lessons learned from these programs in North America indicate that achieving these goals is possible, and that Vermont will not have to go it alone. It can link to systems that have already demonstrated success,” said Glitman, lead author of the report.
Vermont is part of a group of states that are developing and evaluating a regional approach to a Cap and Invest model for the transportation sector through the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), building on the successful structure of RGGI. The Northeastern and Midatlantic states have been coordinating stakeholder input and are expected to release a draft structure for a Cap and Invest model by the end of 2019.
About Energy Action Network (EAN):
Energy Action Network (EAN) is a diverse network of over two-hundred non-profits, businesses, and public partners, all working together to achieve Vermont’s 90% renewable by 2050 total energy commitment and to significantly reduce Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions in ways that create a more just, thriving, and sustainable future for Vermonters.The core staff of EAN’s non-profit organization supports the work of Network members by presenting and analyzing official data; serving as an objective tracker of progress; acting as a neutral convener which refrains from policy advocacy; and facilitating communication across the Network. www.eanvt.org
About the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE):
The Center for Sustainable Energy® (CSE) is a nonprofit offering clean energy program administration and technical advisory services. With the experience and streamlined efficiency of a for-profit operation, CSE leads with the passion and heart of a nonprofit. We work nationwide with energy policymakers, regulators, public agencies, businesses and others as an expert implementation partner and trusted resource. EnergyCenter.org
Source: Montpelier, VT — The Energy Action Network 5.1.2019