Legislature, local partnership also follow UN lead on climate, land development
by Guy Page
Both the Vermont Legislature and the University of Vermont Medical Center have committed themselves and Vermonters to meet aggressive United Nations climate goals.
According to a May 6 statement, UVM Medical Center has pledged to achieve the ambitious goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The commitment comes as UVM Medical Center joins Race to Zero, the United Nations-backed global climate action campaign.
“A healthy climate is critical to patients and communities. This is a bold step forward on the journey toward sustainable health care,” the statement said. “The UVM Medical Center is proud to be in the first cohort of health care organizations around the world – and among the first three in the United States – to officially commit to the United Nations’ campaign.”
As part of its commitment to Race to Zero, UVM Medical Center pledges to achieve an interim target of 50 percent reduction of energy use by 2030.
The Race to Zero mobilizes a coalition of leading net zero initiatives, representing 1,049 cities, 67 regions, 5,235 businesses, 441 of the biggest investors, and 1,039 Higher Education Institutions, a U.N. statement said.
That is in line with its 2018 commitment to Burlington 2030, another U.N.-inspired local partnership that aims to cut transportation emissions, energy use and water consumption by 50 percent.
Health care emissions in the U.S. account for 8.5 percent of the nation’s carbon footprint. The UVM Medical Center has been incorporating sustainable practices in all operations, from large-scale recycling and composting initiatives to transitioning to green buildings, local farm partnerships and the elimination of harmful chemicals. These efforts continue to be a major priority, despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19, the hospital said.
For example, UVM Medical Center invests in sustainable food production that reduces the use of antibiotics, pesticides and fertilizers. The hospital purchases from more than 70 local producers and about 42% of its food dollars are spent within 250 miles.
UN-inspired land conservation bill – H606 – passed by the Legislature and awaiting a veto decision by Gov. Phil Scott – commits Vermont to conserving 50% of total land area. The bill, sponsored by House Natural Resources Chair Amy Sheldon (D-Middlebury), cites United Nations-sourced information that a million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, humans globally are are squeezing wildlife into ever smaller areas, and that changes in land and sea use are the #1 driver of these problems.