Climate and Environmental Action Plan
Burlington has a proud tradition of leadership on the environment. As Mayor, I want to build on this tradition with continued innovation that also supports and aligns with our City’s efforts on economic development, job creation, and development of affordable housing. In 2014, Burlington became the first City in the nation to source 100 percent of its power from renewable generation. I have supported the City’s Net Zero Energy Roadmap, which lays out an ambitious path for moving away from fossil fuels and transitioning to clean heating and transportation technologies. As Mayor, we will take strong climate action that further reduces greenhouse gas emissions while doing so in a way that is economically beneficial for our community. We also need to invest in cost-effective nature-based climate solutions that will lead to better resilience in the city. I was pleased to support our first-ever nature-based climate solutions plan that was recently adopted. Burlington’s actions alone will not make a dent in climate change, but if we create a replicable model that others follow, we create change that has the potential to make a meaningful difference to our planet. To be an example that other communities look to on climate, we must show positive environmental and economic results while creating replicable policies and initiatives. Burlington has shown that switching to an electric vehicle (EV) can be good for the consumer because it is cheaper to charge an EV in Burlington than using gasoline. We’ve shown it is good for the local economy, because approximately 75 cents of every dollar spent with our electric utility stays in the Vermont economy, while less than a quarter of every dollar spent on fossil fuels stays in Vermont’s economy. Further, we’ve shown it can be good for ratepayers because EVs help us use the grid more efficiently and provide revenue for our public power utility that can be reinvested to support Burlington’s climate action goals. However, as we work to enact climate policies, we must be mindful of the impact they have on Burlingtonians. We cannot create a policy in Burlington that simply drives people and business investment out of our community to neighboring towns that are less walkable, less bikeable, and less transit-friendly. Doing so will not reduce emissions, it will make things worse by moving business and institutional investment to communities that are more car-centric and have a dirtier power supply. We should also be certain that our climate policies do not make housing creation too onerous and unaffordable. Burlington needs the support of our businesses, non-profit organizations, large institutions such as UVM and UVM Medical Center, and all our residents in making this transition happen. Climate action truly requires an All Hands on Deck approach. As your Mayor, I will work with trusted community partners in implementing strong policies that are achievable, financially responsible, and meaningful. Even as we make investments to mitigate emissions, we also must recognize that climate impacts are already being felt in Vermont and across the planet. Burlington’s winter temperatures have increased 7 degrees in the last 50 years. Burlington has been identified in a study by Climate Central as the number one City in the US for increased winter temperature since 1970. Burlington is on average 7 degrees warmer than more rural areas of Vermont. Like other forward-looking cities, we need can counter the impact of heating through strategic investment in trees, parks, and natural systems, that cool our city, sequester carbon, soak up stormwater, and clean the air. This speaks to the importance of preserving and restoring our natural areas, open spaces, and parks and supporting additional climate resilience efforts. We can also create habitat in the city on school grounds, park edges, and yards that will bolster cooling and native species and slow stormwater and soak up excess nutrients before they get to the lake. Lake Champlain is the lifeblood of our community. It is our water source, a publicly accessible recreational destination, and a key pillar of our community’s economy. Our Lake is challenged by climate change, but also by pollution. As our streets and green spaces are increasingly covered with litter and debris, we need to ensure that we are not draining these pollutants into the Lake through our storm drains. Moreover, we have seen too many summer days where Burlingtonians cannot safely cool off in the waters of our Lake, and we must work with the state and federal leaders to ensure we protect our Lake and keep it as a vibrant resource for our community and a healthy fish and wildlife ecosystem.
Utilize Vacant Lots for EV Charging
As Mayor, I will look for opportunities, such as using currently vacant lots located close to downtown and the Old North End, to expand access to EV charging for Burlingtonians and visitors to our community. We need more charging stations, and this could be an innovative way to meet that need.
Support New Electric Rate Discounts for Heat Pumps and Other Electric Technologies
Burlington Electric already has a discounted rate for off-peak EV charging that helps consumers charge for the equivalent of about 70 cents per gallon of gas. I support implementing discount programs for heat pumps and other electric technologies to help make the use of clean technologies more affordable for Burlingtonians.
Climate ChangeResilience through Investment in Nature-based Climate Solutions
Support strategic investment in the 6 areas outlined by the City’s Nature Based Climate Solutions Plan. Those areas are, Urban Forest and Tree Canopy, Water and Wetlands, Green Infrastructure, Agriculture and Community Gardens, Lawns Fields and Small Open Spaces, and Equity, Inclusion and Relationships.
City and GMT Continue to Lead By Example
As Mayor, I’ll support continued electrification of our City fleet and City buildings, and I will ensure we work with Green Mountain Transit to support the transition from diesel buses to electric buses for our regional transit fleet.
Make McNeil More Efficient While Supporting the Workforce
I joined with Independent, Progressive, and Democratic City Councilors to support the district energy project at the McNeil Plan that would improve efficiency at the plant while helping the UVM Medical Center significantly reduce its reliance on natural gas, as well as stabilize its heating costs. I also supported the addition of a new solar research center at McNeil, which is a partnership with UVM and Senator Sanders. We can use the McNeil plant more efficiently, and we can use the McNeil site in innovative ways to benefit our community. I am interested in exploring these opportunities and supporting the workforce, including the IBEW workforce, who help keep the lights on for Burlingtonians.
Help More Burlingtonians Access Burlington Electric’s Energy Assistance Program
I have supported the Energy Assistance Program that Burlington Electric first implemented during the pandemic to help income-qualified customers receive a discount on their electric bill, and I support making the program a permanent offering. As Mayor, I will prioritize efforts to help more Burlingtonians enroll in this program and receive the 12.5% discount.
Implementation of the Net Zero Energy Roadmap
Burlington’s Net Zero Energy Roadmap, which was issued in 2019 and has been recognized nationally for its focus on rapidly moving off fossil fuels in two key sectors of the economy – ground transportation and buildings. These two sectors represent Vermont’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
Incentives for Electrification
We should continue to invest in incentives through Burlington Electric Department for Burlingtonians to install heat pumps, switch to electric vehicles, and other key technologies that reduce emissions. Paired with state and federal rebates, Burlington’s incentives can make this transition more affordable and achievable. We should also continue to offer enhanced incentives for low and moderate-income Burlingtonians.
Build on the Partnership with CarShare Vermont
The City and CarShare Vermont have partnered on adding more plug-in hybrids and EVs to the CarShare fleet, as well as making them accessible to Burlingtonians across the City. CarShare helps many Burlingtonians to reduce their need for vehicle ownership and helps Burlingtonians who cannot afford to own a vehicle have affordable vehicle access.
Support New Renewable Energy to Meet New Electric Demand
As Mayor I will support efforts from Burlington Electric to procure new renewable energy sources, such as more solar, wind, and hydro to help meet growing electric demand as we switch to heat pumps and EVs.
Protect Our Lake
Invasive Species Management and Wetland Protection in Burlington Flood Plain
Seek funding sources for restoration and planting work that helps keep our vital wetlands and Winooski River floodplain healthy. Increase plantings of native trees and shrubs along urban streams and river banks. Support the model partnership work between Burlington Parks and School District that has city children growing trees and using them to restore habitat in on school grounds and in the city
Continue to Address Stormwater Runoff
As Mayor, I’ll prioritize continued efforts to invest in green infrastructure in our community that reduces stormwater runoff that harms our Lake. My team will be charged to make certain that development projects are incorporating stormwater runoff planning into their design. The Shelburne roundabout and The Great Streets Project are great examples of projects that incorporate stormwater runoff mitigation and management into design.
Partner with Federal Delegation to Continue Funding Lake Protection
With Senator Leahy’s retirement, it is critical that Burlington and all communities, as well as the State, partner with our Congressional Delegation to ensure continued investment in Lake protection and pollution reduction programs.
Work with the State to Ensure Strong Implementation of Clean Water Programs
As Mayor, I’ll work with the Governor, the Legislature, and state agencies to ensure that strong Lake protection initiatives are prioritized. Our Lake is an economic driver for our State and City, as well as a critical natural resource. We must clean it up and protect it. The City has invested, with strong voter approval, tens of millions into modernizing and updating our wastewater treatment systems and sewer systems, and we’ll need continued strategic investments at all levels of government to achieve greater progress in cleaning up our Lake.
Support Recreation and Wildlife Habitat
The Burlington Wildways initiative is an innovative way to create wonderful trail networks for recreation and equitable access to nature. It also helps to create support for conservation of our wildlife habitats and ecosystems within our urban community which are vital to a resilient and livable city. I will support continued implementation of Burlington Wildways and lead efforts to highlight and publicize the invaluable natural resources and trail networks available to Burlingtonians to enjoy.
Intervale Center and Local Food
Burlington’s Intervale Center and the Intervale space is a unique part of our community that provides us with access to local foods, community gardens and agricultural products, such as through programs like the Fair Share CSA. Local agriculture reduces our carbon footprint through reduced miles food needs to travel.
Our parks provide recreational opportunities, open space, wildlife habitat, and access to our Lake for our community. I support investment in our Parks, and innovation to keep them relevant to the lives of Burlingtonians. Oakledge’s new universally accessible playground is a great model for the direction that all our park investments should be taking. Our new EV charging station at Oakledge offers a demonstration of how we can make even greater use of our treasured parks in the City. As Mayor, I’ll support installation of additional EV charging at our Parks, keeping our parks clean and safe for all users, and support continued community engagement and collaboration to make our Parks more inclusive destinations for all Burlingtonians and visitors.