MONTPELIER, VT –The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) is kicking off its new Climate Change Economy Initiative with the Summit on Creating Prosperity and Opportunity Confronting Climate Change on February 18 at Vermont Technical College in Randolph. The Summit will serve as a founding point for the Vermont Climate Change Economy Council (VCCEC). This group is charged with a one year mission to develop a structured plan with practical actions that will reduce carbon emissions and stimulate green economic development in Vermont.
The Summit will bring together scientists, innovative business, non-profit, and community leaders, elected officials, public policy advocates, students, and interested residents. As a joint body, they will consider the impacts of climate change on Vermont and propose ways to advance the prosperity of the state while addressing them. The Summit will focus on how the emerging opportunities will allow us to build a national reputation, create jobs, and attract young people to our rural communities.
Over 400 are expected to participate in the day which features a climate science “fishbowl” looking at how climate change will affect Vermont’s future, a panel asking current businesses how they are responding to climate change, and 13 working group discussions including:
- Promoting a Vision for Transportation
- Supporting Smart Growth, Reuse, Preservation, & Downtown Redevelopment
- Developing Ubiquitous Distributed Energy
- Innovating for Renewal, Recycling and Resource Limits
- Strengthening Farm & Forest Carbon Sequestration and Profitability
- Seeding a Vermont Climate Investment Strategy
- Adapting Outdoor Recreation & Tourism
The ideas and priorities of conference participants will be starting points for the Vermont Climate Change Economy Council. The group, composed of leaders in business, economic development, the environmental movement and scientific community, will serve as a non-partisan center point for the development of a pro-active public policy around this central issue.
One of the key goals in Vermont’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy is to see that “Vermont is a haven for businesses leading the world in adapting to, mitigating and reversing the effects of climate change.” Currently adopted state plans call for increased thermal efficiency, the electrification of vehicles, dramatically expanded distributed clean energy projects, and resilient communities—all of which could require a concerted economic development initiative.
“Vermont can be in the forefront of innovation and economic advancement through climate action,” says VCRD director Paul Costello. “We want to think with Vermonters about how the state can lead in building business opportunities, contributing to community resilience, and creating jobs that support the prosperity of Vermont communities through the mitigation of the state’s carbon impact and energy conservation.”
This working group will spend 2015 developing a platform for strategic actions to achieve these goals and report them to the Vermont Legislature, the Governor and the public in January 2016.
The Vermont Council on Rural Development is a non-profit organization charged by the federal farm bill to act as a neutral convener at both the local and policy level supporting the progress of Vermont communities. VCRD will provide support to the work of the VT Climate Economy Council, and then help promote the platform of action that comes from its deliberations.
Past VCRD policy efforts have supported progress in issues ranging from wood products to downtown revitalization, rural energy development, the digital economy, and Vermont’s working landscape. VCRD produced the most extensive evaluation of Vermont values and priorities in a generation when it led the Council on the Future of Vermont in 2009.