Woodstock’s Commitments to Fighting Climate Change

By Michael J. Caduto

One of the questions that is most often asked of Sustainable Woodstock is, “What commitments has Woodstock made to fight climate change?” Since its inception in 2009 as a grassroots organization that arose out of concern for global warming, SW has been working with the Town, Village, citizens and partners to implement policies and actions designed to achieve this critical goal. As Woodstock’s Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP) says: “All forms of renewable energy are necessary to meet our renewable energy goals…Our current generation and use of energy have significant negative impacts on the environment, including air quality, natural habitat and land use. The use of fossil fuels in particular, in adding carbon to the atmosphere, is contributing to accelerated global climate change.”

Here are some of Woodstock’s landmark climate commitments:

  • In 2017, then Municipal Manager Phil Swanson signed the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100% Clean Energy Pledge, joining over 220 town leaders throughout the U.S. that pledged to transition away from fossil fuels equitably and justly.
  • Serving as the Town’s Energy Committee, Sustainable Woodstock and its volunteers worked for several years with Town officials and the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission (TRORC) to draft Woodstock’s 2019 Comprehensive Energy Plan.
  • In February 2020 SW partnered with local citizens and Change the World Kids to petition the Town and Village to adopt the Climate Emergency and Action Resolution, which was passed by both the Village Trustees and Town Select Board.
  • Regional Climate Goals: In 2020, Sustainable Woodstock, Change the World Kids, TRORC and many community members successfully advocated for the creation & funding of the state’s first Intermunicipal Regional Energy Coordinator (IREC). One of the IREC’s significant achievements includes working with towns throughout the Upper Valley to create Vermont’s first Regional Climate Action Plan.

What specific targets has Woodstock established in order to fight climate change? While the goals of each initiative are not exactly aligned, they all move Woodstock toward making critical and time-sensitive progress to reduce energy use, increase reliance on renewable sources of energy and cut carbon emissions:

  • Woodstock’s Comprehensive Energy Plan supports the goals of the State of Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan, which calls for meeting 25% of the Town’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2025, 40% by 2035 and 90% by 2050; reducing total energy consumption per capita by 15% by 2025, and by more than one third by 2050; and, by 2025, sourcing renewable power for 10% of our transportation, 30% of our building energy use and 67% of our electric power.
  • Through Woodstock’s 2020 Climate Emergency and Action Resolution—which mirrors the goals of similar resolutions adopted by towns throughout the Upper Valley—the Town Select Board and Village Trustees declared that a climate emergency threatens our town, region, state, nation, civilization, humanity and the natural world, and made both mitigation of climate change, and adaptation to the effects of climate change, a defining focus for planning and action. This resolution commits Woodstock to transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030; to make Woodstock a town and village that is resilient to the current, expected and scientifically predicted effects of climate change by 2030; and to implement a transition process that is fair and just to all those impacted by this climate emergency mobilization effort, especially those from within the most vulnerable communities. The resolution calls for creating a ten year Energy and Climate Plan by the end of 2020 that encompasses these commitments.

In order for all of these goals and objectives to advance toward achievable ends, Woodstock needs to adopt a detailed plan/roadmap (similar to the Regional Climate Action Plan) that includes a timeline for specific projects to be completed, such as  additional solar production, adoption of electric vehicles and equipment in the Town’s fleet, more resources for weatherization and energy efficient heating systems in homes and businesses, etc. These activities would also support meeting the Statewide goals outlined in Vermont’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020 (H.688), which requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, 40% below 1990 levels by 2030; and 80% below by 2050.

In the words of Woodstock’s Comprehensive Energy Plan, “Our current pattern of energy use is not sustainable in the long term.”

The regional Climate Action Plan includes detailed pathways, strategies and actions developed as “a collaboration among the Towns of Bradford, Norwich, Sharon, Strafford, Thetford, and Woodstock to reduce energy use, increase the use of renewable energy, and lower greenhouse gas emissions within their jurisdictions. Image: Intermunicipal Regional Energy Coordinator/Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission.

What You Can Do:

  • Become well-informed by reading articles and visiting websites that focus on the solutions to fighting global warming, such as those of the Natural Resources Defense Council (https://www.nrdc.org/stories/what-are-solutions-climate-change#renewable-energy) and 350.org (https://350.org/).
  • Get involved in local and regional actions to mitigate climate change through your energy committee or commission. Sustainable Woodstock’s Energy and Transportation action group meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 6 PM, over zoom. For more information contact: programs@sustainablewoodstock.org.
  • Attend meetings of your local Select Board, Trustees and other governing bodies to let them know that you support meeting local, regional and statewide climate goals.
  • Learn what can be done at the state level through the Vermont Energy & Climate Action Network (https://vecan.net/) and Climate Action New Hampshire (https://www.facebook.com/ClimateActionNH/)


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