New report examines Vermont’s response to climate change

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New report examines Vermont’s response to climate change

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 3:05pm -- tim

What is state government focusing on today? What challenges is the state ignoring altogether?

Vermont Business Magazine A new report lays the groundwork for understanding what topics and challenges are being prioritized by state government in the push to move Vermont toward a clean energy economy, limit carbon pollution, and prepare for the impacts of climate change that are unavoidable.

“Creating a view of activity underway is essential to any state government that is trying to develop a cohesive and comprehensive plan for moving to a clean energy economy and for addressing climate change,” said Dan Quinlan, founder of the Vermont based non-profit SolaVida that conducted the work. “As state governments move forward on the opportunities and challenges here, it is imperative that they understand how they are spreading their resources. And, to make sure major opportunities and challenges are not being missed altogether.”

During the summer of 2020, with support from the University of New Hampshire Sustainability Institute, the authors of the study compiled an inventory of Vermont’s publicly funded programs that address clean energy and climate change. The resulting report, “The Cost of Climate Change In Vermont: Part One – Spending Inventory” establishes the foundation for a full analysis that would organize and document the spending that underpins the state’s projects and programs. The arenas addressed include energy, transportation, food systems, land use and ecosystems, water management, public health, and economic vitality.

“This report has been an extremely helpful body of information as we build our latest Vermont Climate Assessment,” said Gillian Galford, a UVM climate scientist leading Vermont assessment project. “We’re not aware of a similar study in any other state, and we expect to see this idea replicated across the country.”

Findings from the report identify areas where there is a clear need for increased attention by Vermont state government - including public health, water management, and the vulnerability of industries that will be drastically impacted by climate change. The report also points out the need to examine the level of effort and funding required to embrace the opportunities created by the move to a new energy economy, while also planning for climate change impacts that are no longer avoidable. Despite multiple attempts in Vermont to implement a comprehensive approach, the actions underway remain an ad hoc patchwork of independent activities.

Understanding how we are maximizing our current expenditures to make our communities more energy independent and resilient in a warming world is a fundamental starting point. The analysis in this report will help Vermont identify what we can do better with existing revenues and, importantly, what else we must do — and why,” said Johanna Miller, Energy & Climate Program Director at the Vermont Natural Resources Council. “And, with the new Global Warming Solutions Act requiring much greater, much needed pollution reduction, adaptation and resilience-creating progress, this report highlights where we are falling short and the significant transformation – and investments – required to help all Vermonters thrive in a rapidly changing world.”

Copies of the report can be downloaded at: https://www.solavida.org/state-climate-spending-analysis/

Source: BURLINGTON, VT (April 15, 2021) – Solavida