Vermont CEOs call for carbon pricing

Bram Kleppner of Danforth Pewter, Ted Castle of Rhino Foods, Representative Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford), Jen Kimmich of The Alchemist, Mark Curran of Black River Produce, Joey Bergstein of Seventh Generation, and Matthew McCarthy, of Ben & Jerry’s.

Business leaders from some of Vermont’s most iconic companies on Wednesday called on the Governor and the Legislature to pass a comprehensive climate action package this session that moves the state off of fossil fuels and to local, renewable energy. The CEOs and company founders from Black River Produce, Danforth Pewter, Rhino Foods, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, and The Alchemist made the announcement at a State House press conference Wednesday, warning that Vermont’s failure to reduce carbon emissions is damaging to the economy and the environment. Watch the full press conference here.

“The biggest threat to our business is climate change,” said Jen Kimmich, the co-founder of The Alchemist. “Our business was devastated by the effects of Tropical Storm Irene nearly 8 years ago. Today, we are experiencing severe weather changes that effect the main ingredients in our beer- malt, hops and water. The Governor and the Legislature need to be bold in addressing the real and present danger of the climate crisis here in Vermont.”

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility sees climate change as the top threat today to Vermont’s economy, environment and well-being. The failure to reduce carbon pollution – Vermont’s carbon emissions are up 16 percent from 1990 levels – threatens the Vermont brand and our way of life. VBSR believes the state needs to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

“Protecting the health of this and future generations requires immediate bold climate action and a commitment to deliver on the promises made to Vermont voters to meet our ambitious 2030 and 2050 climate goals”, said Joey Bergstein, CEO of Seventh Generation. “We have no time to waste. We’re looking for policy makers to step up and match the commitments being made by individuals and businesses.”

“We must all do as much as we can, as quickly as we can, to end our contributions to global warming,” said Bram Kleppner, the CEO of Danforth Pewter. “Saying we shouldn’t do anything because Vermont alone cannot make a meaningful impact is as fallacious as saying that you shouldn’t vote because one vote doesn’t make any difference. The actions Vermont takes to improve our local air quality almost certainly accelerates our transition to a clean energy economy with all the economic and health benefits that go with it.”

Putting a price on carbon pollution was the top recommendation of the CEOs at the press conference and they urged policy-makers to consider the report from the Legislature’s own Joint Fiscal Office, which found that the benefits of carbon pricing outweigh the costs. Revenue raised from pricing pollution should be used to move the state off of fossil fuels and to reduce the impact of climate change on low-income Vermonters.

“Policy makers from all political parties support Vermont’s greenhouse gas reduction goals and have committed to the targets set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Matthew McCarthy, CEO of Ben & Jerry’s. “However, the reality is Vermont’s emissions are going up and not down. Time is running out and we must do more, faster. A price on carbon pollution would set Vermont on the path to the clean energy future and cement our State’s reputation as leaders and not laggards on climate.”