Around this time last year, Governor Phil Scott stood in front of reporters, TV cameras and other onlookers on the waterfront in Burlington to reiterate his alleged support of Vermont’s climate commitments and the Paris Climate Accord, and to announce the creation of the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition, a voluntary group working to reduce Vermont’s climate pollution.
We applauded the governor for his words, and made clear that words were not nearly enough — that he needed to walk the walk on climate. That was something he had never done before. His actions up to that time simply hadn’t matched the words in his statement.
As we reflect on the past year, we’re disappointed to report that Gov. Scott is still failing to live up to that commitment. In fact, since that day he’s moved Vermont backwards on climate progress at virtually every turn. He’s talked the talk on climate action, but he has failed to walk the walk.
In the past year since Vermont joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, Gov. Scott and his administration have:
- Proposed slashing Efficiency Vermont’s budget
- Proposed draining the Clean Energy Development Fund
- Oversaw largest ever decline in Vermont’s solar industry
- Put forth a plan for Volkswagen settlement funds that would allow 70% to be used to subsidize diesel vehicles
- Scrubbed mentions of climate change from Act 250 report
- Declared that climate refugees are “economic boon” for Vermont
- Pushed $4m loophole for businesses to opt out of Efficiency Vermont
- Contrary to “no new taxes and fees”, signed new fee on solar farms, supports tax on EV charging
- Pushed for restrictive sound rules to ban wind power
- Blatantly disregarded public comments made to his own Climate Action Commission
This is not what “upholding the Paris agreement” looks like.
Here’s the thing — we can and should be upset about the governor failing to uphold his end of the bargain when it comes to climate action — but it’s not enough to just wring our hands. We need to hold the governor publicly accountable. If we don’t — we send the message to all of our elected leaders that it’s ok to just pay lip service to climate action.
The unfortunate truth is that most Vermonters have no idea about the Governor’s true track record on climate. His pledges were treated as front page news, and his death by a thousand cuts strategy to undermine climate action has largely flown under the radar.
If the U.S. is going to do its part to tackle global warming, it’s up to the states to act boldly and swiftly. Vermonters deserve leadership with actions as ambitious as their words — and we’ll keep fighting for that progress.
We know this is a difficult fight, but it’s one we can’t afford to lose. Together, we have to hold our leaders accountable.
That’s why we’ve posted a series of images on Facebook detailing the governor’s track record on climate. Help us by sharing these images on your Facebook by clicking here.
Not on Facebook? Not a problem. Send a message to the governor directly telling him that this isn’t what upholding the Paris Agreement looks like.