NOTE: All is paraphrased….
Intro: Phil Fiermonte, Sanders outreach coordinator
Over 100 high school and college students here today.
Bernie is leading the fight in Washington – only member in Dem Caucus on both energy and environmental committees. He and Barbara Boxer introduced climate change legislation.
[thank yous to those who helped organize the event]
One of the privileges of being on these committees is that we get to sit down with some of the leading scientists in the entire world. The major point in the last year: Their projections about global warming were wrong. What they said was too conservative. The damages they now see and the speed is far more severe than they had previously thought. If we got you nervous before, you should be a lot more nervous today. No one can make predictions with 100% accurate, but it we don’t get our act together, by the end of this century, the temp of earth will be 8 degrees f higher than today. That’s only 85 years. In the lifetimes of students today, the temperature of the Earth can go up by 8 degrees. I hope you all understand what that means and the catastrophe.
CIA and DOD have this as one of the largest challenges. It means in our country that great cities like NO, NYC, Boston, etc. will be under water.
What it means is that extreme weather disturbances (scientists will tell you “we can’t tell you *this* storm was caused by warming, but we can tell you that the likelihood of more of these is increasing. We’ll see more of these with more severity, more frequently.
If you saw the pictures of Sandy. We just spend 60 Billion dollars just to help NY and NJ rebuild. Billions were spent after Irene. Think of the implications of that if we have more severe and more frequent disturbances.
Think about drought – in the US and all over the world. Think not only of the farmers, but also of the food. Think what it does to food supply.
If you have droughts and floods leading to catastrophic changes – what do you think happens politically? War and political turmoil. Who’s going to get the water? We talk about the Middle East struggle – don’t underestimate the role of water in that.
What about VT?
Spring of 2012 exceeded previous record high by a full degree. Not only warmest on record for US – NWS declared 2012 was the warmest year on record in Burlington.
There used to be a lake road to Platsburg when the lake froze in winter. Can’t do that now. Ski areas are
Sugar maple season starts earlier, passes more quickly. Plant hardiness zones have been revised. Invasive pests moving northward, bringing threatening major damage to our forests. In VT we would see a 4 degree increase by 2050, 9 – 10 degree f increase by end of century. Would mean VT climate = Georgia by 2080. That would devastate sugar maples, ski industry, create droughts, more invasive pests, electrical infrastructure.
World War I was a terrible war, many many lives lost. After the war, people didn’t want to think about war or guns. Then Hitler came to power, and few voices were saying we need to do something. Because we did not respond, Hitler’s power grew, and WWII led to 50 million lives lost.
97% of peer reviewed science – absolutely positive. There really are not differences of opinion. But tens and tens of millions of dollars from coal companies, setting up phony organizations to confuse the issue, like the tobacco companies did 50 year ago. Now you have Citizens United, and the Koch brothers are not shy about putting their own people in office. They’ve made science political. You have a lot of smart people rejecting the scientific community due to $$ and because it has become part of the Republican party ideology.
Very pleased in our state there’s a divestment movement going on – and it’s happening all over the country. Students are getting schools to divest.
The very good news is we know how to significantly cut back on carbon emissions. Transform from fossil fuels to efficiency and sustainable energy. You save people money on fuel bills. When you weatherize a home, fuel bill drops 30, 40, 50%. We create jobs, we cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. Part of the legislation Boxer and I introduced puts billions into efficiency to cut back on fossil fuel use.
Moving away from carbon based fuel into wind, solar, geothermal, biomass. PV prices going down significantly. Problem if you are middle class, it still costs you upfront money.
How do we get the family those solar panels and that weatherization?
We are also looking at wind, biomass, geothermal. Major investments in new technology – can we electrify transportation system? Can we rebuild our rail system? Can we plan our cities and towns into the future so people don’t have to travel long distances to work? The answer is yes.
When we are leading in new technologies, we can lead the world. We can do the right thing. If we stand up and say “we are dealing with a problem of enormous planetary emergency,” we will make the difference.
We *already* have the technology – today. Off top of my head: got someone into old building in Rutland. Has been rebuilt to affordable housing, using 80% less fuel than before. We can do that all over the state and country. Military has been very good in terms of efficiency and renewables. Lost too many troops delivering fuel to outposts. Mirrors concentrate sunlight on oil, oil drives generator. If outpost uses solar, saves on number of troops put in danger. There is also solar thermal. In Mojave desert solar thermal generator coming online: 200,000 homes.
In our state, we can be a leader. Town committees are the way to go. We can show the country what sensible energy policy is all about.
Global warming not only real, but terribly real. Planetary crisis of our time. The planet will be a less hospitable way to live. It is a moral responsibility to the next generations. What I fear that 70 years from now, people will look back and say “why didn’t you do something?”
LOTS MORE BELOW….
UVM: John Erickson, Amy Sidell, Leslie Ann Gereaux
Climate change science and impacts.
Climate Change Science helps us understand our past, what’s happening now, and the future.
One of the first lessons is that climate, weather, and climate change refer to different things. Climate is long term patterns. Weather is what you experience on a day to day basis. Climate science involves exploring long term trends. Paleo-climatologists use ice cores and other fossil records to understand what the planet looked like and the patterns of climate over that time. 12k years ago, entered holocene era, climate remained stable for 10k years, allowing emergence of human civilization. Now entering the anthropocene – now warmer than the last 4k years. Before anthropocene, humans survived based on solar energy and the natural processes that capture and convert it.
Fossil fuels changed all that. These fuels produce vast amounts of energy. 25k of human labor in one barrel of oil. With so much avail energy, it seemed like there was no end to growth. Unfortunately, the release of CO2 from these fuels, hidden behind this growth. Unprecedented economic and population growth.
Today, GHGs are rising, not waning. The ability of our soil, forests and oceans to absorb CO2 is decreasing. In 1950, 320 ppm, today: 396 ppm. Average rate of increase 2 ppm/year. My children can expect 450 to 950 ppm. We see these numbers in our back yards, when inches of rain exceed inches of snow and spring arrives earlier than the last.
These changes are occurring in our back yards.
Winter – No secret that winters in New England more mild less snowy. When I was a kid we sledded off our front porch stairs. Ski resorts depend on low temps and high snow fall. Now adapting with more snow making, draining more water, using more energy. 16 fewer days of snow cover per year. Ice cover reduction – one month less ice cover.
Spring – blooming lilacs sign of spring – bio-indicators of climate change. Now blooming 4 – 8 days earlier. Significant impact on bird behavior. More than 150 species of birds moved north by 35 miles, nesting and mating earlier (22 days earlier than 1960s). Did bird research: find as many bird species as possible. Was inspiring to see so much diversity. 50 years from now, young ornithologists won’t be able to experience what I did.
Summer – more intense heat every year, 4 days per decade extension of
Can grow peaches, nectarines, rice. Losing VT wildlife and tree species. Many moving north in latitude and higher in elevation. Lyme disease increasing – pulled first tick off last night. Blue green algae blooms in Lake Champlain block swimming by end of summer.
Fall – Leaf color, will change. Cold loving trees moving north. Less colorful southern trees moving in. Maples moving north due to need for cold – 90 to 120 days to enter dormancy. UVM’s maple research show changes already. Data are undeniable. VT is entering time of ecological flux. Casting long shadows, fall comes up. Think of my family’s woodlot – what will it look like in the future?
VT State Climatologist
At UVM, one tool is modeling: what we’ve learned from the models:
- Beyond q of what ecosystems will look like in VT, how will we withstand these changes> What will it cost to adapt? The number may seem relatively small, but the ave of days exceeding 90 degrees f has already doubled. Snow cover is key ingredient to economy in state. Only 4 resorts will remain profitable as things warm by end of century. Okemo got more summer revenue than winter revenue. Farms need to adapt what to grow, when to plant, new research, training, equipment. Our first task is to mitigate our emissions. What will we be adapting to if we don’t?
- Long term economic impact: current cost of action vs future costs of inaction. 2012 study found climate change already contributing to deaths of 400k people per year costing 1.2 trillion dollars per year. As extreme weather events continue, natural resources depleted. Loss of 5% of GDP per year. Nation depends on health of these water resources. Intensity and frequency of heat waves will continue. Now over 125 days of temps over 100 degrees. I fear the repercussions of this changing economic system.
- What next? I can stand up here and tell you this is just a phase and that the 14 million dollar storms last year in US are just a fluke, But that’s not the reality. We are now stuck with accepting that climate IS changing, and we must adapt. The 2007 projections predicted 2 degree C rise by 2,100. In order for that to be true, must switch to carbon free economy. The other was 4 degrees C.
I’m asked: “how can you study this without getting depressed?” I used to be unable to, but now I view it as a call to action. The combined actions of all of us will allow us to keep up.
Seeing so many committed young people up here on stage makes us feel much better about the future.
Next Up: What does climate mean for VT?
Mike Winslow, staff scientist Lake Champlain Committee
Chuck Ross, Ag Secretary
John Erickson, UVM prof.
Sue Minter, Dep sec trans.
3 – 4 years ago went to the lake in mid heat wave. We found that instead of refreshing swim, there was an algae bloom that could produce toxins. These early blooms are driven by temperature. They are not limited to lake Champlain.
Not just the algae, there are changes in fish – cold water fisheries, trout, etc. Small mouth bass will increase.
IPCC suite of factors:
1 – 4 week earlier peak stream flow
Increased precipitation and increased extreme events. Most pollution delivered to our water bodies comes from these heavy storms. Flowing over farm fields, roads, parking lots, etc.
Our water treatment facilities designed for certain size storms – the size we used to get. The facilities can’t handle these large storms, so more pollution is released into the water. Storm water facilities also designed for certain size storms. Need to design bigger facilities. How we respond to the storms – channelizing and dredging rivers are ecological events the ecosystem can’t recover from quickly.
Last time the lake froze over was 1997. August water temperature on Champlain is 3 – 7 degrees warmer.
Algae blooms, shift from cold to warm water fish, more intense storms delivering more pollution, overrun waste water treatment.
Climate is a critical issue. Climate change is man-induced. We cannot put these inputs into the system and not expect an impact and have change. We are seeing that today. That ecological system will have to feed over 9 billion people by 2050 – without climate change, that’s a challenge. With climate change, it gets scary. We are inviting social chaos, before we run into the looming ecological chaos.
As in many things agriculture is part of the problem. We represent 14% of global greenhouse gases. We have a contribution to make to this – and an opportunity to address it. Some impacts:
Growing areas are moving northward. When your growing area moves think what happens to your investments. The drought led to high grain prices, causing huge problems in profitability for VT farmers. Ag is a bright spot in our economy, but the drought is affecting the balance of payments. These effects are dramatic – when a vegetable farmer lost 7 of 9 acres: soil stripped to bedrock, not just the food washed away. When farm that grows 12′ corn, but only 3″ remain above the deposited mud, there’s something wrong. Maple, fastest growing economic sector: shorter, earlier season. Forestry coming under stress. As pests migrate to places they haven’t been. Logging season will be shorter. Invasive species moving into state. Number of significant invasives threatening our forest and maple industries, already on our borders.
How do we deal with them?
Ag energy: cow power, solar on farms, wind in the right places, biomass energy. We’re leader of biodigesters nationally. Converting methane to co2 is 20 – 30% reduction in GHGs. We need efficiency at the farms to drop impact of demand. Biofuels to run farms being produced on our farms. We are not alone in this in VT. We have a chance to use ag as restorative activity to build soil, capture carbon, and reforest. Increase water retention. Reduce temperatures on micro basis, fix carbon into soil.
Tools like smart phones, combined with “those kinds of minds” (referring to students who presented) are the reason we have hope.
Sue Minter Deputy Sec of AOT
Irene recovery officer for a year. Impact of extreme weather on our infrastructure. Was appointed Jan 2011. That year was an incredible story of climate change in VT. No hard frost that winter. Jan, snow started (late). Feb snow picked up – 24 of 28 days. March greatest number of potholes in state. Freeze, thaw, pop. More frequent mud seasons.
April, highest precipitation ever in April. Super-saturated ground. Then flood 3′ above flood stage for 6 weeks. Late May flash flooding never seen before. THEN Irene hit. Irene sent mud into Long Island Sound (photo).
500 miles of road damaged. 200 miles of railroad damaged. 34 bridges on state highway washed away. Towns lost hundreds of roads and almost 1000 culverts. 13 communities entirely stranded. Needed to reconnect 13 communities in 24 hours. Got national guard from multiple states. 20,000 acres of farmland lost. 7,000 VTers registered with FEMA for aid. Mobilizing volunteers for this spring to help those still without homes.
The story of our response gives me hope. We’ve learned so many lessons from Irene. LEssons in how VTers come together – in adversity, there is opportunity. Lessons in how to be VT strong. We are very resilient people, but we need to become resilient for the future. We want to adapt to the fact that the climate is changes. Irene brought state gov together in very different ways. We continue to work collaboratively across agencies. Road agencies working with river scientists. Evaluating what we did well and what we did not do well. We’ve learned about how to allow rivers to flood. Joint trainings on incident command systems.
Communities build on riversides – need to be thinking differently. Have conversations with your communities. Not only adaptation , but also mitigation. Climate change is real, here, and transportation = half of state GHGs. Investing in reducing transportation’s impact. We need to do it together. I know we can do it together. We are VT strong.
John Erickson, UVM Dean
Economics of climate change. Have been in field since 1992. Same year, we had project funded by Rockefeller Foundation on the topic. Paper in journal “Science,” by William Norhaus, claimed economic impact “no big deal.” This has been very influential on policy makers.
Assumes only agriculture impacted. Assumes seamless adaptation. Also assumes rapid discounting of future (so long term benefits of cutting climate impacts = smaller than they are).
- growing disconnect between economics from real world. Deep ecological understanding of our natural world isn’t understood. Most economists put impact at few percentage points. Since in US Ag is only 3% of GDP. So if 50% of ag is wiped out, it’ll only be 1.5% of GDP, no big deal. (audience: what about the food?)
Assumes a clairvoyant farmer. If temps change, seasons lengthen or shorten, etc. farmers instantly adapts. What if it takes humans a little longer to adapt? Models taking that into account show impact 3 – 5x the projections of the economic models just with this ONE change: 20 – 30% change in GDP.
Discounting the future:
We put less value on the future in these models. The tradeoffs in these models say future isn’t worth as much as the present. That’s about 95% of the debate. Norhaus did a survey of colleagues: All economists were on the “discount the future” side. All of the ecologists said, “we’re not worried about the averages, we’re worried about the tails – the small probability of catastrophes. Economists should look at the ways to prevent the catastrophes, instead of thinking about adapting to “average” changes.
As the economics work gets done, don’t we have to look at the way we have built our economies on the rapid exploitation of our natural resources, don’t we have to look at changing it?
Bernie: general assumption is we want a lot of economic growth. Turns out that economic growth doesn’t create jobs and income. Between 2009 and 2011 – 100% of all NEW income, despite some economic growth went to the top 1%. It doesn’t filter down to ordinary people. The more important point: can we continue to destroy the environment without paying a horrible price. Radical transformations of our society – cowboy capitalism is not the solution to all our problems. Focus on the really important issues: health care as a right, create a sense of community where satisfaction in life isn’t equivalent to buying more stuff.
John: Paintings by Katherine Montstream, Burlington artist.
VT Last May passed a law to looking at health of economy with genuine progress indicator. First state to pass such a law. MD has been using such a measure for 3 years – we’re working with them.
You get what you measure. GPI adjusts for income distribution and reflects the costs of our economy. In contrast GDP says super-storm is a good thing for the economy, because you have to rebuild. Oil spill is great, because you have to clean up. Air pollution’s health care costs are good for economy. Divorce is excellent: why have 1 household when you can have 2?
Individual assistance under FEMA designed to replace what was damaged. Public Assistance – we were limited to replacing exactly what had been damaged. Doesn’t look to the future.
New FEMA guy is aware, and better than last one. We will replace the kind of culvert that was damaged, but not put in bigger culvert to prevent future damage.
Sue: ANR has permitting program that requires towns to build larger culverts to replace damaged culverts. Bernie is hel;ing us with the conversation with FEMA re: reimbursement post Irene. Working to understand our fluvial flood and erosion zones. Making progress, but it’s a very important q.
Andrea Stander: Impact of midwest drought in VT kicking up grain prices, also going to have 9 billion people to feed. 600k people in VT, 6000 farms, but only half of them re providing sufficient income for the people who live on those farms. What can we do to support our small scale farming infrastructure that will feed Vermonters even when other parts of country can’t provide that food.
Chuck: This week, press conference allow CSAs at state buildings for state employees in state buildings. Supporting small farmers in the area. The CSA model – he price they get from difrect purchase instead of sending to market through 3rd party is huge help in surviving.
Farm to Plate and Farm to School: building ag literacy, understand where your food comes from, know which end of a chicken an egg comes from.
Initiating farm to institution program – using Fletcher-Allen as a model. Creating economic food hubs.
Always have been ag exporting state, we need to continue to sell to those markets for value-added dollars.
Bernie: brought resources to schools so students can grow for themselves.
Whey does the US spend so much money on military and how can we change it?
Bernie: short answer: political revolution to change priorioties. US spending almost as much as the entire rest of the world on military. In Europe, low cost ed, free health care, lower mil expenses – those are our NATO allies. Our response is not to cut our own military, but to tell them to spend more on their military.
Paul Ryan’s republican budget would make devastating cuts, not a nickel on military spending.
Likelihood of carbon tax passing in DC?
Bernie: I have introduced legislation which includes a carbon tax. $20/ton of Carbon or mathane equivalent. Transforms energy system, efficiency, renewables, protects those affected by higher energy costs. SOME people (George Shultz = one), as people in places like Oklahoma, Alabama, and more are telling their congresspeople that they can’t ignore climate.
We’ve introduced this legislation to be gold standard. We know it won’t pass, but it’s the model of how to address the crisis, and it’s a goal post. We have to gain more cosponsors and more activism all over America to create political will to respond to that crisis.
NH is about to enact 15 cent/gallon carbon tax on gasoline. Can VT do that?
DOn’t think gs tax is the best path. We need more efficiency. Have made progress on cafe standards. Move to electrification and rail rather than automobiles.
One Earth, One Voice
Seeing some military brass saying the right things.
When you have DOD and CIA worrying about this as a primary issue, we need to come together.
Introducing Bill McKibben
I have enjoyed his great books. We’re proud of his work as a writer and his work as a teacher. What he has done is combine capability of great writer and teacher to be a great communicator and great organizer. That does not happen every day. He’s chair of 350.org. He is recognized not only as one of the national leaders in fight against global climate change, but one of the international leaders. I was very proud Bill was at my side when Barbara Boxer and I introduced our legislation.
I ask myself what would make 500 Vermonters come inside on the prettiest winter day=y?
One of the things I’ve been able to do over the last 5 years is to meet a lot of politicians. Senator Sanders is different.
I am sure Bernie will be in the absolute lead making sure Keystone XL doesn’t happen when politicians get together to try to sneak it through.
I’m not going to bother to talk about all the climate stuff the students have presented, already.
By the time last summer was over, the Arctic had essentially melted. We’ve broken one of the major physical features of the planet. This is what’s happening now. This is what happens when you raise the temperature 1 degree. If we don’t get a handle on it now, it will be 4 or 5 degrees. The real news I want to bring you today is to introduce you to your brothers and sisters around the world participating in this fight. Vermont is not alone in this fight.
7 years ago, we walked the length of VT. On the 5th day, when we got to Burlington and Bernie met us, there were 1000 people walking. Which you all know, for VT, is a LOT of people. The hard part of that day was picking up the Free Press and reading that this was the largest demonstration in the US on climate change. We had assumed that reason, alone, would lead to the changes we need. It didn’t happen because reason is not what decides these things alone. The part of the movement we didn’t have was the movement part. We started 350.org in response, 5 years ago, with 7 students from Middlebury. Each student took a continent, and we went to work. We asked people to do something wherever they were to raise the alarm. No one had tried something like this. We got the first sense that it might work about 36 hours early. We were sitting around a little office, and our Ethiopia person called. She, like most of the world, she was 17 years old, running Ethiopia for us. She was in tears, “the Govt took away our permit,s o we’re going early before they can stop us” We so wanted to do this with the rest of the world, but we have 15k young people out on the street in Addis Abbaba.
Afghanistan – US troops spelled 350 with sand bags.
There had been people claiming that poor people worried about their next wouldn’t care and would never join. Well, most of the people we worked with were poor, black, brown, Asian, young, because that’s what most people are.
People who didn’t look like people thought environmentalists look like – but their hearts are exactly in the same place They’re thinking about the future. Even Abu Dhabi, with oil sheiks sent a photo of themselves in front of the largest solar array in the world.
It’s been beautiful, fun, powerful work. Dominican Republic had so many people in their demo, they needed satellite to take a photo. During 2011 protest of keystone XL, Hurricane Irene hit. 2 days later, VTers showed up on a bus with stories of the epic trek to find enough bridges to get out of the state. But as important as it is to fight defensively, as wonderful as it was when VT became 1st state to ban fracking last year, defense is not enough. We also have to play offense. VT energy independence day second edition is coming up. It means going after the fossil fuel industry directly. Glad to see these students from places where young people are taking the lead.
Got a call the day after Rolling Stone piece, giot 10x more likes on Facebook than Justin Bieber in same issue.
All you need is 3 numbers:
- 2 degrees is most we can survive. We can’t go past it.
- 565 Gigatons of carbon is the most we can burn and stay below those 2 degrees (15 yrs at current rate)
- Fossil fuels: 2,795 gigatons in fossil fuel reserves.
We know how the story ends unless we change the script dramatically.
Did a divestment tour – snce all they care about is money, we hve to take some away. 256 active divestment fights in US, right now. Largest student activism fight in decades. If you went to a college, and they send you letters and things, you might want to help out here: tell them to divest.
If you’re 20 right now, this is your life. It’s all your life will be by the time you’re my age. Staggering from one hurricane to a wildfire, to the next, to the next. Humanity will be nothing more than emergency response.
I said the next generation shouldn’t shouler all the burden. It’s not the best thing for a 22 year old to get arrested. But after a certain point, what are they going to do to you?
We asked – if you’re going to get arrested, wear a necktie or a dress. There’s nothing radical about this. Radicals work at oil companies. if you’re willing to change the chemical makeup of the atmosphere, you’re a radical. If you’re hoping your kids can live in a world kind of like the one you grew up in, you’re to a certain extent a conservative.
The enemy we’re fighting is physics, which is kind of a tough opponent.
Thrilled this is happening in our school I;m very concerned about the rate at which oil and gas leases are being given out in the US on Federal lands. Major focus for management of federal lands: oil, shale, tar sands in the US. I don’t think keystone is the biggest issue we have. We’re being impacted in VT seriously by climate change. We need to look at fed govt. Interior, just handed over to Sally Jewell, from the oil industry.
I was happy when Obama was re-elected. Amy Klein said – this time, no honeymoons. The fed has been better than the Bush Administration, but then I’ve drunk more beer than my 14 year old neice – this is not a huge accomplishment.
It doesnt work, mathematically. I have to stop myself from being a jerk. If only you’d listened to me 25 years ago – there were things you could have done that white houses like to do. But we’re not there anymore. The arctic has melted, we can’t do the easy things again.
There are coal mines the size of Keystone we need to keep inthe ground in Australia.
We’ve stopped the production of new coal plants in the US. It’s like getting rid of new cigarette smoking in the US and exporting them to China. It’ morally wrong to do it with cigarettes, but unbelievably stupid to do it with carbon, cuz it all mixes together in the atmosphere.
I understand the protests at one level, but they seem to be taking us from the discussion of how we have to change our lives.
My writing is about local economies, local food, energy, finance. Given my druthers I’d like to stay home and work on this stuff. I had an email from my wife last year “You do realize you’ve spent more time in jail than at home.”
We have to get this under control at a global level, or the change will be so large that the best local economies can’t cope with it.
Among the biggest victims of Irene were the best small farms in the state.
Just wrote a new book – a bit of a diary of the last 2 years, and a bit of my neighbor the apiarist. I spent time thinking of how that different kind of economy will take place.
When the arctic melted last summer – Jim Hansen said the only way to describe where we are right now is “in a planetary emergency.”
Wednesday: Group divestment from TD Bank in Montpelier. Thurs: Moncton, nat gas pipeline that VT gas is trying to build in Addison County VT gas is trying to feed fracked gas through VT. Also a fight against wind.
Bill: We’re working on lots of them, but since it came up, I am against a moratorium on wind in our state.
Someone was handing out pamphlets about my carbon footprint – and it’s true, I travel a lot. It used to be VT was a refuge for me, but it doesn’t feel like it any more. The study that came out in September funded by 20 poorest countries in the world 100 million humans will die by 2030. Most of those people get the suffering from it, but haven’t been doing the burning.
Bernie: Divestment can play a very important role in transforming our energy system. Thank you for getting involved in that issue. Bill has laid out what we are fighting for – the future of our planet, and our grandchildren. I think wind is part of our energy future, and I support wind. All sustainable energies. Wheat bill just told you: we’re fighting to save tens of millions of lives. I am in favor of moving as aggressively into production.
VT Working landscape – wind solar, etc present opportunity to embrace what that landscape can look like.
We can’t win this. Change your thinking – think about struggle to succeed. That success won’t be like what it ever was before. We will have lost something. It’s up to us to portray to people how much we will lose and never have back again.
There are not very many people who ever get to say “I am doing the most important thing I can do right now.” But when I look out at the students working on divestment, people working to put solar panels up, etc. They are doing the most important thing they can be doing.
If we let the temp go up 4 – 5 degrees, people will be paying for it as long into the future as it’s possible to imagine. If we do what we need to stop this, people in the future will look back at us the way they look back on those who stopped fascism. It’s time to go to work.
[break for workshops]
Sustainable Energy Solutions
We have heard from the #1 advocate in Congress, Bernie Sander; and the #1 activist in the world, Bill McKibben.
If you haven’t heard enough to gt involved right now, you’re in the wrong workshop. We are here to say the solution starts now.
Sometimes, we are of necessity trying to stop bad things from happening (keystone). There is a bill S30 to make it more difficult to build renewables in VT, at the wrong time. There’s info on the VPRIG table.
We’ve decided to break into 4 subgroups for discussions:
Local ideas, state level activities, federal opportunities.
Johanna Miller: Coordinate VT Energy Climate Action Network.
Want to encourage those NOT on a town energy committee to start or join one in your community. Waterbury LEAP ambitious goal of doubling solar in town. Redoubling this year. That’s just one example of what communities are doing. Inspiring and essential.
Heating efficiency bill in leg doesn’t have enough people pushing policy makers to pass it, and not enough political will.
State: Heating Efficiency VT Energy Investment Corp:
Operate in VT, DC, Midwest, etc. Have been in House Nat Resources committee. We’ve been via Eff VT on electric efficiency. Our growth turned negative due to our efficiency success. We now need to move to heating eficiency. Heating is 2nd only to transport in the state for climate footprint. We are not getting the same results from heat efficiency as we did for electric efficiency. Legislation has had lots of positive rhetoric, but not there yet on passing legislation. Need to push that forward. Lots of talk, not enough action.
State: Energy Action Network
Last couple of years chair of energy action network to study how to make VT 80% renewable across all sectors by 2030. Inform the state comprehensive energy plan 90% by 2050. Been analyzing transportation, biofuels, solar etc. and how they all fit together. In closing, I wanted to share my favorite global warming cartoon:
Sanders proposals and other things we can do.
The bills propose a carbon tax. A portion goes into a dividend back to taxpayers, and a portion goes to renewable energy projects – research, development, implementation.
Federal Policy Breakout Group’s Ideas:
* – Federal carbon regulation through bill or through clean air act section 111. EPA has the authority to regulate green house gases. NRDC came up with proposal for regulating greenhouse gases for all power production.
* – Federal money for heating efficiency.
*- Encourage fuel efficient transportation, Public transit, Comprehensive transportation plan.
- Frame as health care savings and other cost savings, rather than moral need.
- Advanced energy research to keep tech moving forward.
- Reallocating subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables.
- Interest free loans
- Find ways to use CO2.
- Capping the grid – to build a new power plant, must take an old one offline.
- Lobby your existing politicians.
- Look at results of Jimmy Carter’s programs.
- Lowering interstate speed limit.
- Peace Corps-like “Earth corps” to implement and assist in projects.
- More enforcement: rewards for “dropping a dime” on polluters.
- DOD largest consumer of energy in the country.
- Lots of land and buildings, reduce use through efficiency.
- Federal commitment to saying that wild lands should remain free from development, fossil fuels and other development.
- Urban/community planning for local sustainable communities.
- Home energy challenge
- Start or join town energy committees & vermontivate
- March 21, 10:30 AM Energy independence day event at state house (vprig.org)
Renewables and transportation:
- All the TVs in the country while turned off = enough power to require 5 nuclear plants.
- building efficiency
- local renewables – make $$ avail
- Heating efficiency
– legislators willing to talk, but not walk on the issue. Contact your legislators.
– require “MPG” sticker equivalent for homes
- Support Sanders’ legislation
- Carbon reduction either via legislation or via EPA & Clean Air Act.
- Transportation policy, public transit
- Promote federal and heating efficiency.
Adaptations for Nat Resources
VT got a lot of things right in the past. Lots to build on. Think smaller. Think about community level things, interacting with env. on community level. We know a certain amount of travel has to be done, but how do we make it possible to do less.
– Better planning out communities
– Genuine progress indicator: measure the right things so you can accomplish the right things. Think about what is good for the people. The economy is not a thing on its own. it’s a product of us. Local community involvement is important. If everyone shows up and volunteers and speaks up, it will make a difference.
- Resilience: strong communities enable you to deal with adversity.
What would it take to make it so our money supports small and local rather than large and distant (like tax code). Also overpopulation.
Roads, bridges, power lines, drinking water, storm water, waste water systems. What have we felt in our own communities in which climate change has played out on our infrastructure.
Considered on our personal level, community level, state, federal. Solution ideas:
- How do we plan for tomorrow. Much or what we rely on is dependent on past history. We look at past data, for example, we look at past flooding and frequency, rather than the actual severity of this one.
Stafford Act – look at it, see how we can use the act to respond so we’re replacing based on future impacts, not on past. Right now it takes 3 flood events before FEMA will agree that a structure is undersized.
Incentives – Get smart planning on the ground. Use existing resources and dollars more wisely to make solutions that make a difference. How can we incentivise state revolving fund so it build in resilience.
Raise awareness of the threats and their risks. Get to all audiences – municipalities, legislators, general public. How can we rely on that information to make more informed decisions. Public service announcements. Recognize the natural infrastructure’s role (flood plains to contain water, etc.).
NManage storm water – if more frequent extreme events, how to handle it? Sometimes, when too much comes into your waste water facilities, raw sewage is pushed out.
Low impact development to allow clean rain water to soak into the ground and not become a liability.
Education incentives for watershed stewardship for all our watersheds.
Preparedness is important, these events will happen in the future.
Interconnection of our infrastructure is key.
Can we redirect DOD dollars toward sound public works projects?
I get my energy to return to Washington from You. When we htink about what’s going on in our country When you turn on the TV it can get depressing. If you are sitting in the Senate it can get really depressing If you went through 20 hours of budget committee meetings, it gets really, really depressing. But if you look at history, just think 20 years ago, it would be unthinkable to have an African American president. Just think of the struggle in this state over Civil Unions The whole country was looking at the state on civil unions not gay marriage. History has its arcs. Sometimes we get depressed because on economic issues the power of money, but things change. This is a fight we can win, as well.
What Bill MCKibben told us today:
Positive stuff – people of all colors, religions, ages all over the world are standing up with the same message that we need ot cut emissions.
In some countries, they’re fighting for the physical survival of the country. The people who have the money and the power can make things look different than they are. But we need to know the way things are – all these people, not alone.
What we’re talking about is what’s happening to human beings. When there are droughts people do not have enough to eat. When there are floods and mass migrations, there are wars. Bill is talking about the lives of hundreds of millions of people and the kinds of lives our children and grandchildren will be living.
I have always believed congress and the feds are the last people to know what is going on. Change happens when millions and millions say “enough is enough, we need change.” I believe this small state and our communities can lead in changing the direction of this country on global warming.
When we do the right thing, the word spreads. We have an impact all around the country. When the US does something, the word travels around the world. That is why it is so important we have strong climate change legislation.
The fight we’re fighting is the most important – the survival of the planet. This small state can be a leader.