Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger accounces a climate change coaltiion Tuesday with Gov. Phil Scott.
A new coalition will set Vermont on a path to meet statewide — and worldwide — goals for cutting carbon emissions, officials said Tuesday.
Standing outside the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain on the Burlington waterfront, Queen City Mayor Miro Weinberger said the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition will hold a summit this fall in which municipal governments, the state, businesses, colleges and organizations will pledge to reach specific goals to reduce carbon emissions — and will outline plans to do so.
Weinberger characterized the statewide plan as a way to counteract the “historic mistake of the Trump administration” in withdrawing earlier this month from the worldwide Paris climate change accord.
“I envision Burlington coming to the summit and reporting out where we plan to be in 2025,” the mayor, a Democrat, said. Ideas likely will include expanding on the city’s current efforts to require energy efficiencies for downtown business construction and its transition to electric buses, he said.
Gov. Phil Scott, joining Weinberger and other leaders at the press conference Tuesday, said he’s on board with the coalition. He will also convene a state climate change commission to look at economic opportunities related to carbon reduction.
The efforts are intended to meet the Paris agreement’s goal of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 percent from the 2005 level by 2050, as well as Vermont’s more stringent goal of a 50 percent reduction in emissions from the 1990 level by 2028, Weinberger said.
Meeting individual pledges would be voluntary, Weinberger said. But, he noted, the public would be able to monitor whether each participant was reaching its goals.
As the Republican governor pledged his support, environmentalists listened warily. A group from the Vermont Public Interest Research Group stood off to the side holding signs urging Scott to “walk the walk” on climate change. Scott's opposition to wind power and a carbon tax, they contended, will hinder any attempt to put a dent in emissions.
But Scott assured the crowd that he was committed to meeting the tougher Vermont goals, as well as the Paris standards. He argued those lower levels could be reached without new industrial-sized wind projects or a Vermont-only tax on carbon emissions.
“If we did it as a country, that might be one thing,” Scott said of a carbon tax. Asked what kind of pollution-cutting measures he would agree to, Scott mentioned tax incentives for energy-efficient items such as electric cars.
Vermont Natural Resources Council executive director Brian Shupe reacted warily to Scott’s plan after attending Tuesday’s announcement.
“We’re hopeful, but a commitment to take action really depends on taking action,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll do it all on tax credits.”