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Vermont Leaders Launch State-wide Coalition to Make Good on U.S. Paris Climate Pledge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 20, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
                 802.734.0617

 

Vermont Leaders Launch State-wide Coalition to Make Good on U.S. Paris Climate Pledge
After Federal Withdrawal, Cities, Non-profits, Colleges and Universities, Businesses, Community Members Invited to Join Coalition, Make Pledges to Reduce Carbon Emissions and Help Vermont Meet U.S. Commitment in Paris Agreement

 

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger, joined by Governor Phil Scott, members of the Vermont Mayors Coalition, and other community leaders today launched a state-wide coalition – the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition – to help achieve the December 2015 Paris Climate Agreement pledge by the United States and to mitigate the impact of the Federal government’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. At a news conference held at the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, the Coalition invited all Vermont municipalities, non-profits, colleges and universities, businesses, and community members to join the Coalition and do all they can to reduce carbon emissions in an effort to help Vermont meet the U.S. commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions levels from 2005 by 26-28 percent by 2025. The Coalition, coordinated by the City of Burlington, is intended to complement State goals established in prior years and will convene a summit this fall during which all participating parties will issue their own voluntary organizational pledges that collectively will constitute Vermont’s Climate Pledge for Paris and will be benchmarked against the U.S. goal.

“The withdrawal of the federal government from the Paris Agreement is a historic mistake that makes the generational challenge of addressing climate change even harder, and that must be reversed as soon as possible,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The withdrawal also makes action at the local level even more urgent. Together, one organization at a time, Vermont cities and towns, businesses, and civil society have the opportunity to make choices and take steps that move our state toward the international goals of the Paris Agreement, as well as toward Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions goals and its goal of being 90 percent renewable by 2050. I am excited to collaborate with Governor Scott, the Vermont Mayors Coalition, and community leaders to launch this effort.”

Last month, Governor Scott and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker sent a letter to the Trump Administration urging that it continue the United States’ commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. Following the President’s withdrawal from the Agreement, both governors announced that Vermont and Massachusetts would join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of states committed to upholding the Agreement.

“My Administration is committed to meeting our state’s existing targets for carbon reduction and renewable energy, and this statewide coalition can play a key role in our overall strategy,” said Gov. Scott. “I thank Mayor Weinberger and each partner in this coalition, as well as the Agency of Natural Resources and Public Service Department, for their leadership and support in working toward these goals.” 

Federal Delegation Weighs In
The members of Vermont’s federal delegation shared the following thoughts about this new Coalition:

“I am proud to stand with Mayor Weinberger, Governor Scott, and community leaders from across Vermont to uphold the goals set by the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Senator Patrick Leahy. “This is so fitting, because Vermont has always been a leader for clean energy innovation. President Trump’s know-nothing, anti-science agenda for now has ceded American leadership on these vital issues to China and others. For as long as this administration insists on burying its head in the sand, local efforts in Vermont and around the country will continue to carry forward the fight for a healthy planet with clean air and water. The Vermonters of today and tomorrow depend on it.”

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is an abdication of American leadership on one of the most pressing global issues of our time,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, who serves as a member of the Senate’s energy and environment committees. “We must redouble our efforts and keep up the fight, with or without the support of Donald Trump and the fossil fuel industry. I am proud to see Vermont stepping up to meet the challenge and continuing to work to transition our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and renewable energy. We have a moral obligation to leave our children and our grandchildren a planet every bit as healthy and habitable as the one we inherited.”

“Combatting climate change is the greatest challenge of our time,” said Congressman Peter Welch. “American leadership is essential to preserving our planet for future generations. We cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand, and must move forward with or without the president.”

Coalition Action Plan
The Coalition has been in contact with the leadership of the Climate Mayors group, formed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, which in recent weeks joined former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group, We Are Still In. We Are Still In seeks to serve the function the federal government would have played had the U.S. remained a party to the Paris Climate Agreement. With the City of Burlington serving as the facilitator, the Coalition’s action plan includes the following steps:
 

  • Grow the membership of the Coalition;
  • Collect as many voluntary pledges as possible from all over Vermont;
  • Establish benchmarking support and analytics – the State, through the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, will provide support in determining how pledges transfer into calculable greenhouse gas emissions reductions, how close Vermont is to reaching the U.S. goal, and scenario-planning for closing any prospective gap;
  • Work with partners to indicate what steps they plan to take to help the U.S. meet its nationally-determined climate contributions;
  • Encourage short-, medium-, and long-term efforts that may include: encouraging transportation alternatives; producing and building a supply chain of locally-sourced goods to minimize the use of transportation emissions necessary to get the goods to market; composting in the backyard; weatherizing homes; and implementing energy efficiency measures;
  • Convene a summit this fall where all the pledges collectively will constitute Vermont’s Climate Pledge for Paris;
  • Track the progress of Coalition members; and
  • Share the progress with We Are Still In.
     

Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition Partners
In addition to the State of Vermont and the City of Burlington, early Coalition members include:
 

  • Burlington Business Association
  • Burlington Electric Department
  • Burton
  • Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association
  • Champlain College
  • Champlain Housing Trust
  • Conservation Law Foundation
  • Dealer.com
  • ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
  • Efficiency Vermont
  • Green Mountain Power
  • Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Local Motion
  • Renewable Energy Vermont
  • Seventh Generation
  • Stowe Electric Department
  • University of Vermont Health Network
  • Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
  • Vermont Chamber of Commerce
  • Vermont Clean Cities Coalition
  • Vermont Community Foundation
  • Vermont Electric Cooperative
  • Vermont Electric Power Company
  • Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
  • Vermont Gas Systems
  • Vermont Law School
  • Vermont Mayors Coalition
  • Vermont Natural Resources Council
  • Vermont Public Power Supply Authority
  • Vermont Ski Areas Association
  • Vermont State Colleges System
     

“Whatever your emissions reduction trajectory, there’s a place for you and your organization in the Coalition,” stated Liz Gamache, Mayor of St. Albans, incoming Vice President for Grants and Community Investment, Vermont Community Foundation, and outgoing Director of Efficiency Vermont. “Your participation in the work of the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition is vital to creating and sustaining healthy and vital Vermont communities now and in the future.”

“Seventh Generation has instituted an internal carbon tax that has led our entire company to innovate in all facets of business to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Ashley Orgain, Director of Mission Advocacy and Engagement, Seventh Generation. “Decreasing our carbon footprint is mission-critical for Seventh Generation in caring for the next seven generations and we urge other companies to join us.”

“The Vermont State Colleges System stands firmly with Governor Scott, Mayor Weinberger, and the countless other community leaders who are committed to doing all we can to abide by our commitment to the Paris Agreement,” said Patricia Coates, Director of External and Governmental Affairs, Vermont State Colleges System. “At Vermont State Colleges System, we’re training tomorrow’s leaders in sustainability, and growing the clean energy workforce to tackle climate change.”

On Path to Net Zero
Burlington was the first city in the nation to source 100 percent of our energy from renewable generation, and is now working toward becoming a net zero energy city.  The City’s recent steps toward this goal include:

  • Creating a multi-party Memorandum of Understanding for the purposes of exploring the feasibility of a District Energy System that could reduce the City’s total carbon footprint by approximately 20 percent;
  • Launching the Energy Champ Challenge in the spring of 2015 to help Burlingtonians understand and improve their energy efficiency; and
  • Installing 13 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, totaling 24 EV charging ports, in various City locations since 2013.

 

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