A report out Tuesday recommended ways the state of Vermont can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also encouraging economic growth.
The report came from a commission appointed by Gov. Phil Scott last year. Recommendations include new incentives to grow the use of electric vehicles, expanding efforts to weatherize homes and additional land conservation.
Peter Walke, the chair of the Climate Action Commission and the deputy secretary of the state’s Agency of Natural Resources, said the report is not a definitive answer for how the state can reach its goals to reduce emissions.
"I wouldn't use this as the basis to say, 'if we did all these things we would get there.' We know that these things are important, and that there will be others as well that need to be added as we go along," Walke said.
By 2030, Vermont has committed to cutting emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels. However, the report notes that emissions rose 10 percent from 2014 through 2015. Asked what the state can do to turn that trend around, Walke said the state has laid the ground work to reducing emissions by using more renewable energy for electricity generation.
Now, Walke said, the state can move to electrifying transportation and heating sources in the state. Those areas make up two-thirds of the state’s emissions, he said.
“Our grid is only going to get cleaner and cleaner, and so ... we’re going to continue to leverage that strength to be able to implement some of these other recommendations that really get us to the point where we need to be,” Walke said.
Meanwhile, the report was met with some criticism by environmental advocates. In a press release, Johanna Miller with the Vermont Natural Resources Council said the recommendations are strong, but “are cumulatively insufficient in terms of what needs to be done to meet our goals. This new greenhouse gas report just intensifies that shortfall – to an extreme.”
The commission is now seeking public comments on the report. Comments can be submitted through Sept. 30.
Listen to an extended conversation with Peter Walke above.
Disclosure: The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is a VPR underwriter.