Vermont environmentalists weigh in on Biden’s climate pledge

Local News

When the U.S. rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement in January, it renewed the country’s commitment to climate action. And, at the Climate Summit Thursday, Biden Administration ensured they’re taking steps to hold us all accountable.  

“…By maintaining those investments and putting these people to work, united states sets out on the road to cut green house gases in half by the end of this decade,” said Biden.

President Biden vowed to cut green houses gases by 50 percent by the year 2030. Environmentalists in the state say this is a crucial goal and one Vermonters’ can commit to on their own. 

Jennifer Rushlow is the Associate Dean of Environmental programs at Vermont Law School. She says Biden’s pledge is ambitious, but essential. 

“Implementing this vision is a tall order. We’re going to have to completely envision how our transportation system works, how we building buildings…But I don’t really see it as optional. I honestly think we would be worse off if we did nothing,” said Rushlow.

She says 32 percent of the state’s green house emissions is from transportation. Thirty-five percent is from the housing sector.

“So, that adds up to 67 percent. It’s really mostly in the individuals control in terms of how they travel and what their homes are,” said Rushlow.

Director of the Energy and Climate Program with the Vermont Natural Resources Council says Vermont has made significant progress when it comes to the electric sector. 

“Vermont was the first state, the first entity to establish an energy-efficiency utility back in the late 1990s, early 2000’s,” said Johanna Miller. This was an initiative designed to reduce Vermonters’ energy bills and energy consumption. 

Miller is also a member of the Vermont Climate Council and a former member of Governor Phil Scott’s Climate Action Commission

“But, we’re not leading anymore,” said Miller. “Some of our neighbors in the north east and certainly states like California, Oregon, Washington are leading and Vermont sort of lagged for a while.”

Miller explains the state only recently passed the Global Warming Solutions Act. In 2020, it officially turned the state’s climate goals into requirements. 

“We have an opportunity to move back into a leadership role and I think the Biden Administration really set a tone yesterday with their ambitious commitment.” 

Professor Rushlow says, similar to Biden’s pledge, the Global Warming Solutions Act requires the state to reduce green house emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050. 

“That was a really important step toward firming up an enforceable commitment to reducing Green House Gas Emissions,” said Rushlow.

 

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