Vermont Climate Leaders to Speak at ‘Empower VT’ Event
MANCHESTER, VT — Bill McKibben, Vermont’s renowned climate activist and founder of the world-wide group 350.org, will speak at the Southern Vermont Arts Center on Sunday, October 1st, at 11:30 AM. He will be joined by Manchester native Thomas Hand, co-founder of MHG Solar, as part of “Empower VT” – a campaign by the environmental group 350VT to educate Vermonters about our electricity policy.
Empower VT’s goal is to improve state electricity policies to be truly green and equitable. The campaign is designed to inform Vermonters about why legislators need to make significant improvements to our climate policy in the upcoming legislative session.
McKibben, who lives in Ripton, is the co-founder of 350.org, which originated in Vermont and is now one of the world’s leading organizations to address the climate crisis. He also founded Third Act, which engages Americans age 60 and older on climate policy and voting rights.
The October 1st event is co-sponsored by Earth Matters, a grass-roots group of environmental activists, and 350VT.
“Many of Vermont’s proposed climate solutions involve transitioning to electric methods of heating and transportation, which would dramatically increase our electricity use,” said Chris Anderson of Earth Matters. “Transitioning to a much broader use of electricity can be a good solution, but only if the sources of that energy are truly clean, renewable, and just, and if we couple that transition with a reduction of our overall use of electricity.”
Despite the state’s “green” reputation, Anderson noted, Vermont imports much of its energy in the form of polluting fossil fuels. Historically, we’ve called certain energy sources “renewable” when in fact they are not. In addition to an increasing reliance on natural gas, which is a fossil fuel that worsens climate change, other significant energy sources for Vermont include huge hydroelectric facilities in Quebec, and a nuclear plant in New Hampshire.
“We need to be planning for this energy transition in a way that considers our energy needs, our ecosystems, and justice,” says Anne D’Olivo of Earth Matters. “It’s not just about switching our electricity sources, but transitioning to low emission renewables in a way that is consistent with the health of our communities and the planet.”
“Under current state policy, our electricity sources aren’t sufficiently low-emissions,” D’Olivo added. “In this time of devastating floods and wildfires – driven by climate change – we’re also exporting the risks and harms of our energy needs to communities outside Vermont. We can and must do better.”
The event on October 1st will begin at 11:00 AM with free snacks served in the lobby of the Arkell Pavilion at the Southern Vermont Arts Center. The presentation will follow from 11:30 -1:00. Childcare can be provided with advanced notice.
Visit the RSVP page at https://tinyurl.com/3e4csh6m RSVP page for COVID protocols, to communicate about childcare, any accessibility needs, and to register for the event. (RSVP is preferred. but not necessary.)