Vermont shows how acting on climate change is good for its economy and citizens
- 19 January 2016
LONDON: “There’s no more important issue for those of us leading states and leading provinces than moving forward on climate change. Our kids and grandkids depend on it,” says Peter Shumlin, Governor of Vermont, in a Climate TV interview filmed at The Climate Group’s States and Regions General Assembly at COP21 in Paris last December.
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The North American state is at the forefront of the fight against climate change as part of The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance and the Under2MOU to collaborate with other forward-thinking state and regional governments.
In 2011, the government passed a Comprehensive Energy Plan aiming to achieve 90% renewable energy by 2050. Since then, the number of solar panels in Vermont has multiplied by ten, the government claims.
Speaking at Climate Week NYC 2015, Governor Peter Shumlin underlined that the cost of climate action is “far outweighed” by the “investment and jobs created”. Investing in climate action brought the state over 15,000 jobs in clean energy – particularly in solar energy. At the same time, the government aims to achieve 50% emissions reductions by 2028 and 37-45% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
Vermont recently passed a law to reduce emissions in the state while growing its economy, which will create 1,000 new jobs and save Vermonters US$390 million on energy costs. In particular, the bill establishes a new 55% renewable electric requirement for all utilities’ sales in 2017, rising to 75% by 2032. It also requires new distributed renewable energy generation of 5 megawatts or less, so to provide 1% of electricity in 2017 – rising to 10% by 2032.
STATES AND REGIONS LEAD
Sub-national governments like Vermont are showing how they can be even more effective than their national counterparts in tackling climate change – as many of them demonstrated in Paris at the historical COP21 climate talks. “In the US, we have a Republican congress who is doing climate change denial, they pretend it doesn’t exist,” underlines Governor Peter Shumlin. “For governors, for others, to move our states forward is absolutely critical to our kids and grandkids having a great future.”
Vermont’s climate plan has so far included expanded net metering, with growth at more than sevenfold compared to 2011, and support to bring down the cost of solar from 30 cents per kilowatt hour to less than 12 cents. Moreover, wind generation in the state has moved from 30 megawatts to 119 megawatts.
All these measures are good for the state’s economy, but also for the health and security of its citizens. “In my state, I’ve been managing three climate change [related] storms,” says the governor in the Climate TV interview. “They are devastating. We’ve got to move.”
by Ilario D'Amato