Burlington Free Press Article highlights EAN’s Annual Progress Report for Vermont.
May 25, 2021 –
By Dan D’Ambrosio –

Thousands pack Church Street in front of Burlington City Hall on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, for the Vermont Climate Strike Rally, part of the Global Climate Strike worldwide to draw attention to climate change.

Vermonters spend $1.5 billion annually on fossil fuels for heating and transportation, representing a “major drain on the state economy,” according to a report released Tuesday by the nonprofit Energy Action Network.

Jared Duval, executive director of the EAN, said in a news release that Vermont needs to “stop purchasing and installing new fossil fueled equipment when there are more affordable electric and renewable alternatives.”

Vermont has set ambitious goals for reducing the state’s greenhouse gases, and as the EAN report points out, has made significant progress when it comes to incorporating renewable energy into the electrical grid. But when it comes to getting ourselves around and heating our homes, Vermont has a long way to go.

The report points to electric vehicles, heat pumps and advanced wood heating as having a “triple benefit” — pollution reduction, cost savings and local economic investment.

“We can do this — and the solutions can save Vermonters money while helping revitalize Vermont’s economy,” Duval said.

A ‘useful tool’
Sen. Christopher Bray, D-New Haven, chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, said in a news release the EAN report will be a “useful tool” as the Legislature prepares climate bills for the next session.

“As a legislator working on climate change, I am keenly aware that to do good work, we must have good data,” Bray said.

The latest data in the report shows that Vermont is halfway to achieving its first greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirement of being 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, with 2018 emissions 13% below 2005.

But on the more ambitious goal of falling 40% below 1990 emissions by 2030, Vermont is only at the “starting line,” according to the EAN report. As of 2018, emissions were just back to being equal with 1990 levels.

Also, more than 90% of the decline in Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions between 2015 and 2018 came from changes to the statewide electricity portfolio, mandated by the Renewable Energy Standard. Vermont does not have a comparable regulatory framework for the transportation or heating sectors.

“Vermont policymakers need to get serious, fast about the transportation and thermal sectors in particular,” Duval said. “Otherwise the numbers just don’t add up.”

Fossil fuel used for transportation and heating are responsible for 74% of Vermont’s climate pollution, according to the report.

Bring on the electric cars
The report recommends buying electric instead of gas vehicles as one of the most effective actions to take, and models 46,000 EVs replacing gas vehicles by 2025, and 120,000 EVs replacing gas vehicles by 2030.

To achieve those goals, one out of every four new vehicles purchased in Vermont over the next five years would have to be electric, followed by at least one out of every two vehicles between 2026 and 2030.

The report also says Vermont needs to see a five-fold increase in home weatherization over the next decade, calling for 120,000 more homes to be weatherized by 2030, especially for lower- and middle-income Vermonters.

To ready the full report, go to: https://eanvt.org/2021-EAN-report
Contact Dan D’Ambrosio at 660-1841 or ddambrosio@freepressmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanDambrosioVT. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers.
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