Equitable Emissions Reduction

PRS Briefs
Thursday, June 9, 2022

Vermont faces numerous challenges from climate change, which have already begun to negatively impact the state's ecosystem, economy, and public health, especially affecting rural and low-income residents. While the state's greenhouse gas emissions make up only a small fraction of total United States emissions - and are small when compared to other states - Vermont still has a long way to go to reduce emissions in the transportation, residential fuel use, and agricultural sectors. This report analyzes many of the pathways laid out in the Vermont Climate Council's Initial Vermont Climate Action Plan from December 2021, which sets goals and makes recommendations to meet the targets enacted by the Vermont legislature in the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020. Crucially, this report focuses on the impact of these recommendations on rural and low-income communities in the state and offers strategies for effectively communicating emissions-reduction options to increase public buy-in from Vermonters. To reduce emissions in the transportation sector, this report considers methods to incentivize the use of  electric vehicles and reduce overall vehicle miles traveled (VMT). In the residential fuel use sector, this report offers communications strategies to increase the home weatherization workforce. Finally, in the agricultural sector, this report provides insight on means of promoting agronomic practices to reduce tillage and increase vegetative cover, as well as a feed management program to reduce emissions from livestock. Comparisons with model programs in other states/municipalities around the country are offered throughout the report to highlight best practices that can feasibly be adopted in Vermont.