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The Vermont Climate Economy Initiative

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Climate change is the defining issue of our time. We, as a people, are faced with an unprecedented environmental challenge, and must identify strategies to reduce energy use and carbon emissions. This challenge also presents an economic opportunity as we pivot away from fossil fuels. Vermont can take the lead in modeling economic solutions to climate change. The Vermont Climate Economy Initiative is designed to make the state a destination for entrepreneurs who want to be at the center of the climate change movement. With Vermont's aggressive state energy plan, higher education expertise, innovative utilities, and strong business leadership, we have a powerful story to tell, one that can celebrate and reinforce current efforts while growing a new generation of creative businesses that want to be at the center of this economic movement, and also want a high quality of life. The Vermont brand, and all of the state stands for, gives us an edge, if we will seize it.

The Goals

  • Identify opportunities created by climate change to strengthen Vermont’s economy through strategies that advance key business clusters and economic sectors.
  • Build an increased sense of unity in Vermont around policies to confront and mitigate the impact of climate change and to advance economic opportunities and solutions that respond to climate change.
  • Build a public information campaign to celebrate innovation and Vermont’s green business leadership while building Vermont’s brand as an economic/environmental problem solver.
  • Use Vermont’s brand around climate change solutions to retain and attract youth and creative entrepreneurs throughout the state.

The Council
During 2015 VCRD convened the Vermont Climate Change Economy Council (VCCEC) to frame solutions to build Vermont's prosperity and attract entrepreneurs who confront rather than just adapt to climate change. The group, composed of leaders in business, economic development, the environmental movement and scientific community, served as a non-partisan center point for the development of a pro-active public policy around this central issue. VCCEC developed the strategic actions that are needed in their final report and action plan - Progress for Vermont - and reported them to the Vermont Legislature, Governor, and the public in February 2016. More about the Council...

The Summits
VCRD hosted three Climate Economy Summits to explore emerging opportunities that will allow us to build a national reputation, create jobs, and attract young people to our rural communities. The 2015 "Summit on Creating Prosperity and Opportunity Confronting Climate Change" brought together over 400 participants to consider the impacts of climate change on Vermont and propose ways to advance the prosperity of the state while addressing them and served as the founding point of the Vermont Climate Change Economy Council. More about the 2015 Summit...

The 2016 "Vermont Climate Economy Summit: IDEAS to ACTION" was held in February 2016. Over 420 participants reviewed "Progress for Vermont" - the Vermont Climate Change Economy Council (VCCEC) Action Plan - and considered strategies for implementation and the partnerships that are needed to move them forward. The Summit also served as a founding point for the Vermont Climate Economy Partnership uniting partners and friends working to advance Vermont's Climate Economy. More about the 2016 Summit...

The 2017 "Catalysts of the Climate Economy: National Innovation Summit" (cc:econ) was held in September 2017. More than 500 entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors, and innovators from across the country interested in growing the climate economy gathered in Burlington for the three-day Summit. More about the 2017 Summit...

Regional Forums

VCRD produced three regional forums across the state to look at stimulating green economic development. Each featured local business leaders who are implementing innovative strategies to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. The forums generated a list of "Ideas to Advance Vermont's Climate Economy" around how Vermont can grow jobs and nurture innovative business development in sectors ranging from clean energy to recycling, transportation systems, and thermal efficiency.