Vermont Takes on Climate Change

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The Vermont Legislature is making significant strides in the fight against climate change, pushing forward a bill that proposes holding major fossil fuel companies financially accountable for the damage caused by climate change. This move comes as a response to the recent extreme weather events that have wreaked havoc in the state.

The proposed bill, which is expected to receive final approval from the state Senate this week, aims to establish a fund dedicated to climate change adaptation projects in Vermont. The companies that have played a part in causing climate change through the release of harmful greenhouse gases would be the ones to finance this fund.

However, there are critics of the legislation. Republican Governor Phil Scott, for instance, warns that the bill could lead to an expensive legal battle for Vermont. Some critics suggest that larger states should be at the forefront of such initiatives.

The bill tasks the state treasurer, in conjunction with the Agency of Natural Resources, with calculating the total cost of greenhouse gas emissions from 1995 to 2024. The calculation will consider the impact of these emissions on public health, natural resources, agriculture, and other sectors.

However, not all are in support of the bill. The American Petroleum Institute opposes the legislation, citing potential constitutional issues. One of their major concerns is the possible retroactive imposition of costs on activities that were legal at the time they were carried out.

The legislation proposes a ‘polluter-pays’ model. In essence, companies linked to more than 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions would contribute to a fund for climate damage mitigation efforts. These efforts would encompass infrastructure upgrades and energy efficiency improvements in buildings.

Despite the opposition, the bill has garnered a significant amount of support, particularly from the legal and environmental sectors. Supporters believe that Vermont is capable of successfully handling any legal challenges that may arise from the legislation. They see this bill as a step forward in the right direction, holding those responsible for climate change to account and taking tangible steps to mitigate its effects.


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