A Letter from Bill McKibben to VPIRG members

I’d like to tell you what I told the Vermont House of Representatives yesterday: the issue on which we will all be judged 50 years hence is how quickly and how boldly we moved to address the greatest challenge humans have ever faced. Temperature increases that human civilization may well be unable to adapt to are bearing down on us. And yet, there is hope.

Our Legislature has the opportunity to take the single biggest bite out of Vermont’s carbon emissions it ever has, by investing in heating efficiency. They know it, you know it and I know it, but for this to happen you need to let your legislators know that you want them to act.

I was asked yesterday a variation on a question I am often asked: in the face of this worldwide problem that demands worldwide solutions, what can one state legislature do? I am pleased to say that I have personally witnessed the outsized impact our little state can have.

My work frequently takes me to China, and when I’m there I invariably find mayors and provincial chiefs who have met alumni of Efficiency Vermont as they spread out around the planet with their wisdom. In fact, many Chinese officials I’ve met know of two American states – California and Vermont – and they’re under the impression that they’re roughly equal. This is a powerful example of what we already have done as Vermonters and what we can do.

Despite the precedent we could set, and despite the hundreds of millions of dollars these investments would save Vermonters, there’s a real danger the legislature will fail to act or will water down these investments and programs, merely scratching the surface of what is needed. I’ve seen time and again the best intentions go to waste in the face of opposition from fossil fuel interests, and make no mistake, they’re making their opposition known in the State House.

I did my best to impress upon the Legislature the urgency of our situation yesterday, and advocates from VPIRG, 350 VT, VNRC and many other environmental groups are doing everything they can in the State House, but ultimately whether the Legislature does what is necessary is up to you.

Click here to ask your legislators to make heating efficiency a priority, and invest in it at a level equal to the opportunity and challenge it presents.

Chipping away at an issue as enormous as climate change is a daunting task, and being asked to lead on it is more significant still, but with your encouragement, if any state legislature is up to the task, it is this one.

Thank you for all that you do,

Bill McKibben