Vermont will not meet its 2028 emissions goals. Now what?

Quite the headline for a state that has set bold goals for carbon reduction: “In 2007, the Legislature passed a law that called for a 25% reduction in emissions below 1990 levels by 2012, 50% below by 2028 and 75% below by 2050.” (Source)

While reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electric generation have declined some, emissions have grown in transportation and heating, “which now account for almost 70% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, emissions from transportation, the single biggest contributor, are now 28% higher than they were in 1990.”

A quick lesson in this: Reducing carbon must be implemented within a complex energy system. Many actions are required to reach the goal. It’s tough.

A couple basic examples.

First, the news article says Vermont citizens are enthusiastic about electric vehicles. However, 97% of Vermonters still drive combustion engines and their miles have been going up.

Will the NC Clean Energy Plan support all no-carbon power?

In North Carolina, the just released NC Clean Energy Plan talks-up electric vehicles, and an aide to the Governor said citizen input was positive about electric vehicles. The issue: Input was positive online but that does not translate into an EV in the garage. It’s an attitude not an EV purchase.

Second, “Vermont has among the oldest housing stock in the nation.” Weatherizing homes is not happening as fast as needed, so energy is still being sucked up to heat poorly insulated homes in the cold months.

Housing stock is an issue in the Carolinas, but for air conditioning, not so much about heat. A large stock of older homes or inefficient homes can take a lot of power to cool in hot summers.

Public radio WBUR noted the Vermont Yankee closing.

In emissions, though, the Carolinas have an advantage that Vermont does not. Ample nuclear power. Carbon-free power. Here’s a kicker: Vermont passed its emission goals in 2007, and closed a nuclear plant in 2014.

Vermont Yankee was a nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vermont, and provided more than 70% of electricity generated within Vermont and was 35% of Vermont’s electricity use. It’s gone.

Meeting carbon reduction goals is critically important. It is a simple wish to voice and a complex wish to fulfill. Pay attention to all the moving parts in the energy system.