Existing policy not enough to meet Vermont’s energy and emissions commitments, report says
Vermonters stand to benefit from renewable heat, electric vehicles
A new Progress Report released today by Energy Action Network (EAN) highlights how meeting Vermont’s energy and emissions commitments will require state action far beyond what is already occurring, with major benefits awaiting Vermonters and the state economy. EAN, a Montpelier based non-profit, works with state and federal partners to compile the comprehensive total energy and emissions progress report for Vermont each year.
“Energy Action Network’s two hundred plus members and partners are a diverse representation of Vermont: businesses, utilities, fuel dealers, educators, credit unions, non-profits, low-income advocates, and our local, state, and federal partners. We are all dedicated to meeting Vermont’s energy and emissions commitments,” said Jared Duval, Executive Director of Energy Action Network. “This progress report makes clear that living up to these commitments will require bold and comprehensive action, especially from state policymakers, and that there is a big return on investment to be had for Vermonters and our state economy by doing so.”
According to the report, Vermont’s total energy use—across transportation, thermal, and electric use—stands at 19% renewable as of 2018. Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan established 25% renewable as the first milestone for the State’s total energy use by 2025.
Meanwhile, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have been on the rise: climate pollution from Vermont is now 16% higher than it was in 1990, primarily due to increased use of fossil fuels for how we get around and heat our homes and buildings. The Paris Climate Agreement as committed to by Governor Scott requires a 26-28% reduction in emissions below 2005 levels. Vermont was only 2% below 2005 levels as of the latest data, in 2015.
“The EAN report is a go-to resource to understand the most current Vermont energy and emissions data, and the trajectory of our energy future,” said Darren Springer, General Manager of Burlington Electric Department. “The takeaway is that while Vermont has made strides in moving to renewable electricity, we still have significant work to do to reduce fossil fuel use in the heating and transportation sectors.”
To meet state commitments within the next six years, emissions need to be significantly reduced and investments prioritized within the transportation and thermal energy sectors, which together make up 86% of Vermont’s energy use and 71% of our emissions, according to the latest data. Focusing on efficient and renewable technology solutions already working for Vermonters, EAN models the scale of energy transformation necessary to meet the 2025 targets required by the Paris Climate Agreement and Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan. Options like electric vehicles, advanced wood heat (pellet stoves and boilers), and heat pumps are critical to meeting the goals and also offer the additional benefits of protecting Vermonters from high and volatile fossil fuel prices and keeping more energy dollars local, strengthening the state economy.
The report also makes clear that Vermont has an opportunity to lead the nation in demonstrating how reducing emissions can benefit people in a rural, middle income state. It cites Vermont’s almost 19,000 clean energy jobs today, the highest share (6%) of employment in clean energy of any state in the country. Meanwhile, roughly 78 cents of every dollar spent on fossil fuels drains out of Vermont. Efficient and renewable options like weatherization, sustainable wood heat, cold climate heat pumps, and electric vehicles not only provide Vermonters lower and more predictable fuel costs, they also keep up to three times or more of our energy dollars here in state, benefiting our neighbors.
“EAN’s report clearly connects Vermont’s energy story to our economic story,” said Ellen Kahler, Executive Director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. “It shows both how the status quo of our dependence on 100% imported fossil fuel holds the Vermont economy back, and the many ways that we stand to gain from investments in efficient and renewable alternatives, from significant fuel savings to local economic development and jobs.”
The report highlights California, Quebec, and British Columbia as examples Vermont can look to for how to successfully reduce emissions while improving the economy. Each jurisdiction has regulated emissions economy-wide and invested revenue in proven renewable alternatives that have brought emissions back below 1990 levels and also helped contribute to impressive economic growth. While Vermont currently caps emissions from its electric sector, it does not yet cap emissions from its two most polluting sectors: transportation and thermal energy.
To read the full report and learn more about where Vermont currently stands on energy and emissions, the scale and pace of progress that would be necessary to meet the State’s commitments, and the benefits to our economy and health that can result, visit www.eanvt.org/2018-progress-report.
Energy Action Network (EAN) is a diverse network of over two-hundred non-profits, businesses, public agencies, and other organizations working together in a collective impact framework and supported by a core staff to further the Network’s mission.
EAN works to achieve Vermont’s 90% renewable by 2050 total energy commitment and to significantly reduce Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions in ways that create a more just, thriving, and sustainable future for Vermonters.
Jared Duval, Executive Director
Energy Action Network