Ver­mont Steps Up on Cli­mate Change

Trillions - - In This Issue -

Ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, a com­pany’s ac­tions rel­a­tive to cli­mate change will be­come part of the cri­te­ria in se­lect­ing con­trac­tors for the state of Ver­mont.

In a bold move, that state’s governor, Peter Shum­lin, signed off on an Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der that makes a com­pany’s in­volve­ment in com­bat­ing cli­mate change a part of the cri­te­ria in se­lect­ing state con­trac­tors. The or­der was ap­proved on July 19, 2016, with im­ple­men­ta­tion de­tails just now put in place via the leg­is­la­ture and al­low­ing for tim­ing issues on ex­ist­ing bids.

The way the Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der works starts as usual with so­lic­it­ing com­pet­i­tive bids. The bids are then eval­u­ated against the ob­vi­ous re­quire­ments of the com­pa­nies in­volved hav­ing the abil­ity and track record to be able to de­liver against the needs of the con­tracts. A lower cost, a more ag­gres­sive de­liv­ery sched­ule and the abil­ity to de­liver even bet­ter than re­quired all be­come part of these nor­mal con­sid­er­a­tions, with cost com­pet­i­tive­ness rank­ing high in the cri­te­ria.

Then, again as it has been in Ver­mont for some time, pref­er­ence in con­tract awards will be given to com­pa­nies based in the state and man­u­fac­tur­ing in the state.

With the new Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der in place, as­sum­ing two or more com­pa­nies bid­ding on a state con­tract come up more or less equal in the above-men­tioned con­sid- er­a­tions, the win­ner will be se­lected based on which of them is do­ing the most to­ward cli­mate change.

As out­lined in the or­der, the state will give weight to “ven­dor busi­ness prac­tices that pro­mote clean en­ergy and take ac­tion to ad­dress cli­mate change.” Those prac­tices, also de­tailed in the or­der, can in­clude one or more of the fol­low­ing:

Use of ther­mal and elec­tric ef­fi­ciency and con­ser­va­tion mea­sures

Use of re­new­able en­ergy sources for its op­er­a­tions

Ef­forts to re­duce and track car­bon emis­sions

Use of and en­cour­age­ment of em­ployee use of elec­tric and zero emis­sions ve­hi­cles in­clud­ing pro­vid­ing work­place charg­ing sta­tions

Of­fer­ing em­ploy­ees an op­tion for a fos­sil fuel di­vested re­tire­ment ac­count

Whether the sup­plies or ser­vices of­fered pro­mote water and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency

Other fac­tors deemed rel­e­vant by the sec­re­tary re­lat­ing to en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble prac­tices

The rules ap­ply to any con­tract run­ning over $25,000. That ends up cov­er­ing around 97% of the hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars Ver­mont spends money on for out­sourced con­tracts ev­ery year.

Be­sides be­ing a good thing for lo­cals and the world, this re­quire­ment also hap­pens to back up some hard environmental de­liv­er­ables the state has al­ready put in place for it­self. These in­clude, again quoted from the Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der:

Pro­duc­ing 25% of en­ergy con­sumed in Ver­mont by re­new­able en­ergy sources by 2025

Re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions rel­a­tive to 1990 lev­els by 75% as of 2050

Adopt­ing an in­no­va­tive re­new­able en­ergy stan­dard (with Act 56 of 2015) that sets util­ity re­new­able en­ergy targets and im­ple­ments solutions to ad­dress car­bon emis­sions from the trans­porta­tion and heat­ing sec­tors, which ac­count for more than two-thirds of Ver­mont’s car­bon emis­sions

As the Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der goes on, “Ver­mont’s 2016 Com­pre­hen­sive En­ergy Plan [also] calls for a re­duc­tion in per capita en­ergy use by 2025 and calls for 90% re­new­ables by 2050.”

There is there­fore more than just a val­ues is­sue at stake here as the state of Ver­mont moves for­ward on this new plan for eval­u­at­ing po­ten­tial state con­trac­tors. In­sist­ing on those con­trac­tors hav­ing to meet these new cli­mate change cri­te­ria ac­tu­ally helps achieve other goals al­ready built into the state’s environmental plans.

For con­trac­tors in the state who are in­ter­ested in com­pet­ing on such con­tracts both now and in the fu­ture, this adds an in­cen­tive to ad­just what they are do­ing with re­spect to cli­mate change right now. This ef­fec­tively mul­ti­plies the ef­fect of the Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der far be­yond just those con­trac­tors cur­rently bid­ding for state monies.

It is hoped that other states will fol­low suit by copy­ing the spe­cific ex­am­ple and the wise lead­er­ship demon­strated here by Ver­mont’s governor and leg­is­la­ture.

Ver­mont State House in win­ter, Mont­pe­lier, Ver­mont. Image: ji­awangkun /

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