This week Vermont legislators — incumbents and newly-electeds — will return to Montpelier for briefings ahead of the 2019 session that begins in January. It’s imperative that climate action be at the top of their agenda.
That’s why we’re urging Vermonters to be in touch with Vermont’s elected leaders with the most influence to make something happen — Gov. Phil Scott, Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President pro tempore Tim Ashe — asking them what their plans are to address climate pollution in Vermont to help ensure that they prioritize this pressing issue in the 2019 session.
Since last June when the General Assembly wrapped up its work for the 2017-18 biennium, three major scientific reports have been issued:
- From the international community: The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming
- From Vermont scientists: The Vermont Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
- And just last week, from the federal government: The Fourth National Climate Assessment
The message from these reports is unmistakingly clear. Climate change is real. It threatens human health and safety, our quality of life, and the rate of economic growth. And despite having the technology and policy solutions at our fingertips, Vermont — due to its rising carbon pollution — is increasingly part of the problem, not the solution.
Collectively, Gov. Scott, Speaker Johnson and Sen. Ashe have served in state government for 44 years and climate pollution has been rising on their watch.
Last biennium, Vermont essentially sat out on climate action and, to date, none of these leaders has proposed or supported policies equal to the challenge Vermont faces. We can’t let that happen again. And the first step is demanding that they prioritize the problem and make a plan.
While the warnings from the scientific community are dire, they are not without hope. Each and every report shows that there’s still time to act — but we need to do it now. And doing so can both strengthen the Vermont economy and address our contribution to climate change.
And there is an important economic analysis about to be released that could provide Vermont’s elected leadership a roadmap on how our state can best tackle climate pollution, benefit the economy and protect the most vulnerable.
At the governor’s Climate Action Commission’s recommendation, the legislature funded a major economic analysis of different strategies to reduce climate pollution in Vermont. The highly-respected and nonpartisan Joint Fiscal Office is overseeing this research, and the results will be released in the first days of the 2019 legislative session.
Vermont’s elected leadership has a clear moral and economic imperative to act swiftly and decisively on climate in 2019. And with the imminent Joint Fiscal Office’s report providing a clear path forward, there’s really no excuse not to act.