April 20, 2022 | By Frederick Weston
Two years ago, Vermont adopted the Global Warming Solutions Act and committed to reducing carbon emissions 80% by 2050. The act isn’t just another dreamy plan, it set near-term targets that must be met if we’re to achieve these legally binding requirements in the least economically disruptive and most beneficial ways for Vermonters.
By 2030—a mere eight years from now—the state must reduce its total state greenhouse gas emissions (primarily carbon dioxide) by 40% below 1990 levels. And it should do so while saving Vermonters money.
Vermont’s primary sources of carbon emissions are vehicles and buildings that move people and goods around and keep them warm in the winter. Transitioning these activities to low-carbon sources will take time which means we’ve got to get going right now.
Buildings are responsible for about a third of our greenhouse gas emissions. This week and next, the Vermont Senate will be considering a bill from the House based on a recommendation of the Vermont Climate Council. It will create a “Clean Heat Standard”—a performance standard applied to fossil fuel importers requiring them to provide increasing amounts of non-fossil heat services to Vermont customers over the coming years.
It’s a market-based approach similar to other energy performance requirements, such as those for renewable energy and end-use efficiency that have been extraordinarily effective in Vermont, across the U.S., and in China, Europe, and elsewhere around the globe.
And here’s the kicker: the Clean Heat Standard will reduce emissions, but it will also save money today and in the long run. This is because the costs of clean solutions—weatherizing homes, heat-pump water heaters, cold-climate heat pumps for space heating, pellet stoves and other advanced wood-heat…
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