On March 4, 2020

Time to start prioritizing people over profit

Dear Editor,

Climate change is destroying our future, Governer Scott. Your inaction on meaningful environmental policy is extremely disappointing. This is a betrayal of Vermonters, your promises, and the planet. State greenhouse gas emissions are increasing. Summers are getting wetter and hotter, sugar maples’ range is trending north, and tick-borne disease rates are increasing in scale and frequency. This is not a matter of “carrots or sticks,” this is an issue of responsibility and crisis.

Vermont is not going to meet its 2028 goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% below 1990 levels and seriously risks falling short of its commitment to 75% below by 2050. You created the Climate Action Commission but rejected all of its significant recommendations. Your symbolic endorsement of the Paris Agreement targets means nothing if you fail to seriously approach greening the transportation and heating sectors; energy efficiency and renewability can only take you so far.

You cannot resolve the climate crisis with temporary funding and ignorance of your advisors and constituents. We cannot protect the status quo and simultaneously expect real change. It is time you prioritize the people and planet over profit. You are ignoring the cries of Vermont people and politicians. Seventy-six percent of Vermonters are concerned about climate change. Your fellow legislators are working tirelessly to pass the Global Warming Solutions Act; the Climate Solutions Caucus demonstrated their dedication to and care for this issue.

Your environmental strategies are not those of a leader and your inaction is greatly disappointing. Committing to short-term investments in weatherization and allocating the Volkswagen settlement to electric vehicle expansion are not enough. These funds will run out and our reliance on fossil fuels will continue. Signing onto the Transportation and Climate Initiative, or TCI, is a necessary first step; it is shameful you were involved in its development and are now withdrawing support because of increased consumer costs. Furthermore, Senator Pollina’s Green New Deal proposal for Vermont demonstrates the state’s carbon footprint can be reduced without hurting the economy for low-income folks. Climate change action creates new economic opportunities and is largely supported locally, nationally, and globally. You have no excuse.

Your administrative priorities are unconvincing. Your policies inadequately protect the environment, vulnerable people, and future generations. Climate change threatens all life, human and nonhuman. This is a global issue; you cannot promise wellbeing on an unhealthy planet. Vermont should be a leader in pioneering solutions; this is how to grow and strengthen the workforce. Youth will not want to remain in a state that is not actively fighting for their future.

Governor Scott, you have so much opportunity for creative collaboration and solutions. Make climate action a source of pride and attraction, not disappointment.

You asked protesters to give you the chance to speak at your State of the State address. We are listening, are you?

Jaden Hill,

Middlebury

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