The Two Degree Difference: Vermont’s goals on reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Two Degree Difference

A changing climate can have disastrous impacts across the globe and we are already starting to see these impacts take hold across the northeastern United States.

A major part of climate change is linked to how much carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gasses we emit into the atmosphere. But what is the state of Vermont doing to combat these changes and lower our greenhouse gas emissions? 

In 2006, Vermont became one of the first states to set goals for reducing emissions. The goals that were adopted in 2006 called for a 50% reduction og GHG (Greenhouse gasses) below their 1990 levels by 2028 and a 75% reduction by 2050. 

Vermont’s 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan established new planning goals which include a 40% reduction below 1990 GHG levels by 2030 and a 80% to 95% reduction by 2050. 

“One of our success stories in terms of the electricity sector where we have seen a dramatic decrease in greenhouse gas emissions over the course of time. And that is a reflection of our investments and prioritization of renewable energy projects. Hydropower, wind, solar power are all part of that important mix.” said Julie Moore, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

Reaching this goal will require many continuous changes in areas such as agriculture, forestry, transportation, and waste management. The most important step for Vermont however is a clean energy resolution. 

Vermont aims to get 90% of their energy from renewable resources by 2050. So far Vermont has made electricity 45% renewable, building heat 20% renewable and transportation 5% renewable.

As fossil fuel energy is replaced with renewable energy, the state’s emissions of carbon pollution will go down. 

“About three quarters of Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions can be traced back to either transportation or heating and cooling of buildings. Over time we have seen that both of those sectors are increasing.” said Secretary Moore.

The state is also lending a hand to everyone by helping towns prepare for more rain and extreme storms by developing plans that protect residents and infrastructure. 

“It’s absolutely a moral imperative for Vermont to do its part in driving down greenhouse gas emissions.” said Moore. She continues, “There is also a lot of important work that the state government is engaged in along with municipal partners and non-government organizations related to improving the resilience of Vermont’s landscape.”

Overall, Vermont’s emissions have dropped when compared to 2006 levels but have not exactly been on target with their goals set in regards to 1990 levels.

As long as we continue to find ways to reduce GHG emission, expand renewable energy and prepare out local cities and towns for changes in climate, we can reach our goals and help the planet out while doing so. 

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