Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act
In September 2020, the Vermont Legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions Act, a climate-action accountability framework. The newly enacted Solutions Act (H.688) creates a planning process and framework to ensure stepped, strategic action on climate change. It sets deadlines for the state to cut harmful climate pollution, with the 26 percent Paris Climate Accord reduction target as the first milestone and achieving net zero by 2050. The Solutions Act sets in place guideposts for how Vermont must meet these targets. It requires a focus on a just transition; reducing energy burdens and minimizing negative impacts on rural and marginalized communities, as well as rebuilding and growing the State’s economy while protecting public health, enhancing community resilience and harnessing the power of the State’s natural systems to store and capture carbon.
Fundamentally, the Solutions Act is an action framework. It will require state government to lead in the advancement and implementation of job-creating, pollution-reducing climate solutions and, as a last remedy, create a venue for Vermonters to hold the State accountable through the courts if further action is needed to hit the targets. The State has 60 days to appoint members to a 23-member climate council that will serve as the lead entity to craft the required Climate Action Plan to achieve the targets. Massachusetts, Connecticut and, more recently, Maine are among the states that have a Solutions Act framework in place; a framework that has enabled them to make far more climate progress than Vermont to date. This new law sets the stage for Vermont, finally, to make much-needed, job-creating progress.
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