Plea for VT Leaders to Act on Climate

A major new scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on Black Friday serves as a dire warning about the ways in which climate change threatens the United States – now and in the future. The National Climate Assessment comes out every four years, but this is by far the most detailed look yet at the devastation that global warming will bring to the U.S. economy, public health, the environment and infrastructure. The damage is expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars over time.

While the warnings from the scientific community are both comprehensive and ominous, they are not without hope. The analysis makes clear that there is still time to act — but transformative changes must begin now. The good news is that by acting responsibly, Vermont can strengthen its economy while slashing carbon emissions.

A separate Vermont-specific economic analysis will soon be completed that is expected to provide Vermont’s elected leaders with a roadmap for effectively tackling climate pollution while benefiting the state’s economy and protecting its most vulnerable citizens.

At the recommendation of the governor’s Climate Action Commission, the legislature funded a major economic analysis of different strategies to reduce climate pollution in Vermont. The highly-respected and nonpartisan Joint Fiscal Office is overseeing this research, and the results will be released in the first days of the 2019 legislative session.

“The science is irrefutable. If you care at all about our state’s economy, keeping Vermonters healthy, or protecting our environment and expensive infrastructure, then you must prioritize action on climate change in 2019,” said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.

“The Trump administration will not act. The question now is, will Vermont? It’s not enough to talk about the Paris Accord or goals that won’t be met for decades. And while small steps are worthwhile, what we really need to see is support for transformative action in 2019,” Burns added.

“Climate change is already deadly and costly. VPIRG is urging new and returning elected officials to prioritize climate action, take up the recommendations in the forthcoming report from the Joint Fiscal Office, and commit sufficient resources to the effort,” he added. “In short, we want them to lead like our future depends on it.”

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For a summary of the minimum actions on climate VPIRG and other organizations are calling for in 2019, see our joint platform here.