Vermont is vulnerable to increasing temperatures, floods and droughts, and a shorter winter
Vermont’s climate has already warmed by two degrees Fahrenheit in the last century. Increasing temperatures are causing spring to arrive earlier, bringing more precipitation and more frequent storms as well as drier and hotter summers. Rising sea levels threaten the stability of housing and infrastructure projects, as well as increasing the likelihood for flooding which can harm ecosystems, disrupt farming, and pose an increasing risk to human health.
- Increasing temperatures: Extreme heat will increase in the Northeast region. Currently a temperate region in the summer, the region can expect to see an increase of “extremely hot” days. On average, there are only 2.6 days a year over 95 degrees Fahrenheit now, but that number could increase to by 5-16 additional days by midcentury and jump to 15-57 additional days by the end of the century. Increasingly hot summers will have negative impacts on health, mortality, and labor productivity.
- Floods and droughts: Annual precipitation in the Northeast has increased about 10 percent from 1895 to 2011, and precipitation from extremely heavy storms has increased 70 percent since 1958. Increasing variability in precipitation will likely cause more flooding in the winter and spring, and more drought in the summer and fall.
- Shorter winter: New Hampshire’s winter recreation industry is vulnerable to shorter winters with less snow. This could have economic impacts on industries like snowboarding, skiing, and snowmobiling, potentially harming the local economies that depend on them.
- Sea Level Rise: According to a Risky Business Report, the Northeast region in general could experience anywhere from 1 to 7 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century. Portsmouth, NH could experience 6.3 feet rise by 2100. The heightened water levels will increase storm-related property damage by $11-$22 billion in the same time period.
- Extreme precipitation: stands to cause the largest impact on the Northeast. The region has experienced a greater recent increase in extreme precipitation than any other part of the United States. From 1958 to 2010, the Northeast experienced more than a 70% increase in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events.
- Adaptation: In December 2012, Governor Peter Shumlin re-established Vermont’s Climate Cabinet and called on state agencies to take specific steps to prepare for the impacts of climate change. The Climate Cabinet had been originally established by Governor Shumlin in 2011. The Climate Cabinet is chaired by Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources and includes the heads of a number of the state’s agencies and departments. The Climate Cabinet was charged with reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the state’s resilience to climate impacts.
Vermonters support clean energy and climate regulations
- According to the Yale Map Project on Climate Change Communication 3% of Vermonters recognize that global warming is happening. The study finds that 79% of residents support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant and 86% support funding research into renewable energy sources.
Vermont: biomass an important electricity source
- Vermont ranks 33rd in wind capacity with 119 MW installed, enough to power 27,000 homes. There are 4 companies in NH related to wind manufacturing.
- Vermont ranks 23rd in solar, with 196 MW installed or enough to power 35,000 homes. The solar industry employs over 1,700 people across 83 companies across the solar value chain in VT.
- One in six Vermont households uses wood products, such as wood pellets, as their primary heating source.
- Vermont produces less than 35% of the electricity it consumes and depends on power from the New England grid and Canada.
- In 2016, nearly all of Vermont’s in-state net electricity generation was produced by renewable energy, including hydroelectric, biomass, wind, and solar resources.
- In the years 2011 through 2016, Vermont installed 59.2 megawatts of commercial-scale solar photovoltaic capacity, 26.8 megawatts in 2016 alone.
- Vermont enacted the nation’s first integrated renewable energy standard (RES), which makes utilities responsible both for supplying renewable electricity and for supporting reductions in customers’ fossil fuel use.
- Vermont is a part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a nine-state regional program to put a cap on carbon pollution from power plants