Vermont Governor Announces Next Steps on Climate Change

Presents Research-Based Strategy for Addressing Climate Change and Sustainable Model for Funding Climate Change Initiatives

November 20, 2007 -- Burlington, Vt. – A new partnership between state government and the University of Vermont will look to develop a strategy that leverages the state's green reputation into a leadership role in the emerging carbon credit market, while pursuing biomass research and enhancing environmental education in public schools, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas announced today.

Gov. Douglas was joined by UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel, Commission Chairman Ernie Pomerleau and cabinet secretaries at a press conference today to discuss the findings and recommendations of the Governor's Commission on Climate Change.

Douglas applauded the efforts of the Commission and Plenary Group. "Their reports speak for themselves. Vermonters care about protecting our quality of life and that connection with our open spaces will help in fighting global warming while bringing a new green economy within our reach."

Governor Douglas has asked the collaborative to determine how to create a "Vermont Green Standard" for the multi-billion dollar carbon trading market—an effort the Governor says could position Vermont to become the leader in the emerging market.

Vermont has earned the No. 1 status as the nation's greenest state, thanks in part to its healthy portfolio of renewable energy sources and aggressive efficiency efforts, Douglas said. This "green standard" is the cornerstone of future initiatives to lead the way on environmental sustainability and green job creation.

"Vermonters have a long and proud tradition of environmental stewardship. And what we do naturally – because it's the right thing to do – has put Vermont ahead of the nation in doing our part to limit and reduce our contributions to the problem of global warming," Douglas said.

That reputation for green leadership offers a unique opportunity to create a standard for rating carbon credits, said Douglas. As the global market for carbon trading unfolds, the Vermont Green Standard can be the benchmark against which to measure carbon pricing.

"These peer-reviewed standards will bear the Vermont brand – one that is known worldwide for being authentic, pure and unparalleled," said Douglas. "The Vermont Green Standard will be synonymous with a guarantee of rigorous expectations of reducing carbon emissions and helping to promote the goal of reversing global warming. The Vermont Green Standard will tell buyers and sellers of green credits that they are making an investment in verifiable efforts to reduce carbon emissions."

Working with the state's leaders in academic, public and private sectors, Douglas said the new partnership, dubbed the Vermont Climate Collaborative, will marshal the best and brightest minds to unleash efforts to fulfill the recommendations of the Commission on Climate Change.

This strategic alliance will also involve the Agencies of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Transportation, Commerce and Finance & Administration, as well as the Departments of Public Service and Education to position Vermont as a leader in biomass research and technology, opening the doors to future federal funding and economic opportunities.

The most promising of these biomass opportunities is cellulosic ethanol, produced in Vermont from grasses and wood chips. Ethanol derived from cellulose, rather than corn or soybeans, has net energy content three times higher than corn and has a bigger effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"We face compelling issues related to global warming and managing our energy use. Vermont must – and will – respond as only we can: by leading the way," Douglas said.

Establishing the Vermont Green Standard will be underpinning of a funding stream to protecting and managing the state's forests and farmlands for future generations, Douglas said.

Fogel, UVM's president, said teaming up with the academic might of Vermont's higher education institutions will be crucial in establishing the state as a leader in research, technology and job creation.

"Vermont's higher education institutions have very strong research programs, especially in the area of the environment," said Fogel. "This alliance has the capability to both significantly support the state in addressing global warming, while at the same time helping build a green economy in the Vermont. We're very excited to be a part of that effort."

Gov. Douglas lauded the efforts of the Commission on Climate Change and its Plenary Group, saying the two years of study was needed to weigh the eventual recommendations.

In responding to the Commission's key recommendations, Douglas also unveiled the following initiatives:

  • Education Commissioner Richard Cate will work with UVM to establish an ecological literacy standard that can help prepare students for future career opportunities in the green economy
  • $350,000 in state matching grants for local communities to move forward with their own initiatives to save energy and stimulate green jobs.
  • Allowing maple sugar operators expanded access to state forest lands
  • Expanding timber harvest in the state forests as a source of local renewable energy, high-quality wood products and habitat management.
  • Creation of the Center for Climate Change and Waste Reduction within the Agency of Natural Resources to act as a clearinghouse and coordination arm for state government in helping Vermonters reduce their energy needs, both in the public and private sectors

Source: Vermont Governor