VPIRG calls for climate action in Vermont in the face of presidential retreat

Montpelier, VT – President Donald Trump thinks climate change is a “hoax.”

Today, he’s poised to quit the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which united most of the world around a plan to fight global warming.

In fact, of the 197 countries that are part of the United Nations group on climate change, only two failed to sign the agreement – Syria and Nicaragua. Under Trump, the U.S. would become the third member of that group.

With the U.S. Congress dominated at this time by individuals who question the validity of climate science, it is clear that any leadership on these matters will have to come from the states.

“A U.S. retreat from the climate agreement would not only represent a colossal abdication of leadership and a triumph of ignorance over science, it would also jeopardize America’s economy and the health of our people,” said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.

VPIRG called on Vermont’s elected leaders at all levels to condemn the widely anticipated move. But condemnation alone was not enough, the group noted.

“For Gov. Phil Scott, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, and Senate Pro Tem Tim Ashe, this is a time for action, not just words. Vermonters need to know where you stand, and want to see concrete action to protect our economy and health.”

“Vermont cannot stop the president from failing as a leader on climate change any more than he can stop the worldwide march toward cleaner energy. But we can fight back. We can exercise our own leadership in order to invigorate our economy, create jobs, safeguard our environment and protect public health,” Burns added.

VPIRG urged the governor and legislative leaders to demonstrate an actual commitment to climate action on the day when the president apparently turned his back on the rest of the world.

Specifically, VPIRG called on Vermont officials to support:

  • Legislation that will commit Vermont to getting at least 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050.
  • A clear plan to cut taxes while gradually increasing the price of carbon pollution.
  • Full funding for the highly successful Efficiency Vermont program.
  • All renewable energy technologies, including opportunities for utility-scale wind and solar energy in the state.

“Fighting back in Vermont must mean more than finger wagging,” said Burns. “The president’s abandonment of leadership on the world stage is shocking. State leaders now face a choice of whether they too will be left behind, or will they keep pace with the rest of the world.”

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