Lack of action plan hinders Global Warming Solutions Act progress

Two years after the Vermont Legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions Act, the “how” of reaching the stringent carbon emissions goals remains unclear, a June 3 report by the Vermont Joint Fiscal Office says. Also, required spending will outweigh economic benefits until at least 2030.

The report’s high points are republished below.

Vermont’s Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) of 2020 (Act 153) established rigorous requirements for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years and laid out objectives for building resilience, promoting adaptation, and sequestering and storing carbon. 

In accordance with the Act, in December 2021 the Climate Action Plan (CAP) put forth a broad suite of actions needed to meet the objectives of the GWSA. However, the specifics of those actions remain unclear.

The lack of specifics in the CAP limits what analysis can be done. Nevertheless, the Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) was charged with producing a report for legislators that analyzes the “economic, budgetary, and fiscal costs and benefits of the Plan” (see JFO’s charge in Appendix 1). In partial fulfillment of that charge, this report offers a brief overview of the CAP, with a focus on emission reduction requirements, and raises key points for legislators to consider. They include:

• The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020 requires that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced and that Vermont adapt to climate change. The State can meet the greenhouse gas reductions required in statute only if an ambitious suite of actions, such as the illustrative actions presented in the CAP, is implemented.

• If emissions are reduced as outlined in the CAP, Vermont’s economy and people are expected to reap net benefits of approximately $6.4 billion over 30 years, primarily in avoided costs, relative to the business-as-usual case. However, through 2030, additional annual spending is estimated to outweigh annual savings.

• Policy design will heavily influence how different types of people will be affected by changes that achieve statewide emission reductions as well as resilience and adaptation.

• For making the switch to new technologies and investments, relying on voluntary public participation introduces challenges and uncertainty.

• The CAP identifies actions in specific sectors of the economy—transportation, buildings, electricity, agriculture, and other non-energy sectors—and may miss overarching elements of Change.

• The transportation and building (thermal) sectors require adoption of extensive, unformulated initiatives.

• The scope and size of necessary incentives and subsidies to ensure broad public participation are yet to be determined.
• Future sustainable funding sources and their allocations will have to be identified.

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6 replies »

  1. How about repealing the part that encourages special interest groups to sue the state if emissions goals are not reached, if not the entire Global Warming Solutions Act, as a legislative priority in the next session?

  2. The Global Warming Solutions Act is a perfect example of dysfunctional legislation that is created when an extremely small number of special interests groups and activists gain control over naive law makers and of law making process.

    The GWSA will accomplish nothing for the vast majority of Vermonters while greatly benefiting the special interests and the activists that they fund. The people of Vermont will pay big time for required mandates while the special interest groups bank the profits.

    Just think of it, a few well organized and powerful special interest groups have pushed through the GWSA that will cost you a fortune for decades and you get no benefit while they reap the benefits.

  3. “…reap net benefits of approximately $6.4 billion over 30 years…” Considering the Legislature passed a buget of over $8 billion for one fiscal year…we just have wait 30 years to gain $6.4 billion in savings? I guess the $225 million earmarked this year is going to fast forward the savings and cut benefit time in half? Vermont is a cesspool of corruption.

  4. We took goals that everybody questioned whether we’d meet, then turned them into mandates that we knew we’d never meet. And we added the provision that anybody could sue when we didn’t. Yes, we in the minority made that argument when the GWSA was originally passed, only to be once again outvoted.) Time to repeal it.

    • Senator Benning……..Are there any Democrats or Progressives in the legislature that have been awaken to the folly of the GWSA and share your view on “repeal?

      If there are none, what will it take to get their attention and vote to repeal?

  5. Repeal the entire law. It is horrible for every Vermonters and no words can justify the negative impacts on every Vermont citizen. It is to expansive, not needed and only serves the special interest group that promoted it. This rush to “pass something: bill to lead the Nation with extremely far left language does not fix nor help. The Democrat leadership in the Legislature are making life harder for every Vermonter!