On Town Meeting Day, Vermont residents from 35 towns voted overwhelmingly in favor of resolutions seeking climate solutions. The exact wording of each resolution varied, but all the resolutions acknowledged the severity of climate change, urged the State of Vermont to meet its goals for 90 percent renewable energy, and called for a fair and equitable transition off fossil fuels.
The majority of the resolutions also demanded a ban on any new fossil fuel infrastructure, such as natural gas pipelines. Every climate resolution passed and in many towns it passed unanimously. In Montpelier, the resolution passed via Australian ballot, 1715 to 500. In Brattleboro, the margin was even larger, 910 in favor, 180 opposed.
The towns included Arlington, Bennington, Bethel, Brattleboro, Bristol, Burlington, Calais, Cornwall, Dorset, Dummerston, East Montpelier, Greensboro, Guilford, Huntington, Lincoln, Manchester, Marlboro, Marshfield, Monkton, Montpelier, Peacham, Peru, Plainfield, Putney, Sharon, Stowe, Shaftsbury, Strafford, Thetford, Tunbridge, Wardsboro, Weston, Williston, Woodbury, and Worcester.
“There was literally no debate about the resolution and it passed overwhelmingly, 116 to 1,” said Stuart Blood from Thetford. “That’s probably because the thread of climate change was woven throughout the meeting. Thetford suffered the most damage of any community in the state from the July 1, 2017 flooding. We got hit with almost $5 million in damage to our public infrastructure, not counting damage to private property.”
Beginning in November 2017, organizers and volunteers with 350Vermont and other affiliated groups drafted their resolutions town by town and collected the required number of signatures to get onto the ballots for Town Meeting Day. In Rupert, because of a technicality in the wording the resolution was not on the agenda, despite a successful petition.
“Every corner of Vermont has been impacted by climate change, with either floods, increased Lyme disease, wind storms, reduced snow, or shortened sugaring seasons,” said Maeve McBride, director of 350Vermont. “So, it’s not surprising that we see these resolutions passing in 10 different Vermont counties. Clearly, Vermonters are not happy with the state’s meager progress, and they want to see more action on climate change.”
Vermont youth were involved in the efforts to pass the resolution in many towns.
According to Jean Freebern from Arlington, “Sofie Pedemonti, a 12th grader, and Cassidy Pickering, an eighth grader, stepped right up to the microphone and belted out the resolution, beautifully, [which was] followed by a burst of loud applause.”
Olivia Voth from Champlain Valley Union High School also spoke in Williston. One youth led the petitioning effort in Rupert.
“We had a very successful evening in Manchester because the whole community voted in favor of the resolution,” said Letitia Scordino of Dorset and member of Earth Matters. “We had such an outpouring of support from the community that we couldn’t possibly lose.”
This resolution, like many Town Meeting Day resolutions, is advisory and nonbinding, but historically town resolutions have influenced the Legislature and can even have an impact on the national level. Several towns are already planning their next steps.