The information below summarizes actions taken by Vermont to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Vermont has not adopted an official statewide adaptation plan, however, the state has undertaken other efforts to assess climate vulnerabilities and identify adaptation strategies, described here.
In 2011 and again in 2012, then Governor Peter Shumlin established Vermont’s Climate Cabinet, and called on state agencies to take specific steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change (Executive Order 15-12). Governor Shumlin created a Climate Cabinet, chaired by the Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, along with the heads of many state agencies and departments, to advise the Governor and coordinate the state’s work to reduce emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change. The Cabinet was also tasked with partnering with municipalities and regional planning and development agencies to support climate action at the local level.
In 2013, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) developed an Adaptation Framework (“2013 Framework”) for the state’s wildlife, fisheries, forests, and water resources. This Framework identifies climate impacts on the state’s natural resources, and highlights relevant adaptation strategies for ANR to implement.
In July 2017, Governor Philip Scott issued an executive order creating a Climate Commission and tasked the Commission to develop a set of recommended actions the state can take to meet its renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals “while driving economic growth, setting Vermonters on a path to affordability and ensuring effective energy transition options exist for all.”
In September 2020, the Vermont State Legislature passed the Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act (H.688), which requires the state to pursue climate solutions that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and support environmental and economic resilience. Specifically, the act transforms Vermont's existing GHG emission reduction goals into legal requirements and orders the development of the state’s first Climate Action Plan that would identify strategies to reduce state GHG emissions, build healthy and resilient communities, and adapt to Vermont's already-changing climate. Notably, the act includes a provision that allows private citizens to bring a lawsuit against the state government upon the state's failure to adopt or update any rules necessary to implement the Climate Action Plan, including for failure to promulgate rules necessary to implement adaptation or resilience actions, in order to require the state to comply with the act. The act also has a noteworthy focus on equity and ensuring that resilience building programs are accessible to rural, low-income, and marginalized communities.
The state’s climate change preparations have been informed by specific climate projections developed for the Vermont Climate Assessment. Published in 2014 as the first state in partnership with the National Climate Assessment, the Vermont Climate Assessment combines downscaled global climate models and local knowledge and data to identify state-level climate impacts.
Prior to publication of the state’s assessment, Vermont agencies published a series of White Papers identifying potential climate impacts to the state. Published between 2010 and 2013, these reports identify climate change impacts and outline adaptation strategies for a number of sectors including: Agriculture, Water Resources, Public Health, Transportation, Fish and Wildlife, Recreation, and Forestry.
The state has also implemented programs and initiatives to prepare for the impacts of climate change across a range of sectors:
Before the state had a comprehensive framework for pursuing adaptation, state agencies were already beginning to incorporate considerations of climate impacts in statewide plans. For example, in 2008, the Vermont Agency of Transportation developed a Climate Action Plan assessing opportunities to adapt the state’s transportation infrastructure to the effects of climate change. And the state also considered climate change in the 2005 update to the state’s Wildlife Action Plan.
This page highlights the progress Vermont is making in its efforts to prepare for the impacts. Other resources from the Adaptation Clearinghouse, which have been developed and adopted to help Vermont prepare for the impacts of climate change, are featured in the chart below.
The Georgetown Climate Center’s State Adaptation Progress Tracker, which tracks the progress states are making in preparing for the impacts of climate change, was supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
(Research last updated: January 7, 2021).
|Resource Name||Resource Type||Date|
|Vermont Global Warming Solutions Act||Law and Governance|
|Vermont Governor's Climate Cabinet and State Agency Climate Action Plan (Executive Order 15-12)||Law and Governance||December 28, 2012|
|Resource Name||Sector(s) Covered||Date|
|Vermont Climate and Health Profile Report: Building Resilience against Climate Change in Vermont||Public health, Frontline Communities||September 2016|
|Creating and Maintaining Resilient Forests in Vermont: Adapting Forests to Climate Change||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Forestry, Land management and conservation, Wildlife||May 2015|
|Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Framework||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Fish and fisheries, Forestry, Water resources, Wildlife||May 31, 2013|
|Adapting Vermont’s Transportation Infrastructure to the Future Impacts of Climate Change||Emergency preparedness, Transportation||August 13, 2012|
|Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) Climate Change Action Plan||Emergency preparedness, Land use and built environment, Transportation||June 2008|
|Vermont Wildlife Action Plan||Biodiversity and ecosystems, Fish and fisheries, Wildlife||November 22, 2005|
|Burlington, Vermont Climate Action Plan||2014|
|Resource Name||Resource Category||Date|
|Flood Ready Vermont website||Data and tools|
|Climate Adaptation in the Agricultural Sector: Lessons from Vermont||Solutions||November 2, 2017|
|Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative and Final Report||Assessments||September 30, 2015|
|Planning for Flood Recovery and Long-Term Resilience in Vermont: Smart Growth Approaches for Disaster Resilient Communities||Planning||July 2014|
|Vermont Climate Assessment: Considering Vermont’s Future in a Changing Climate||Assessments||June 2014|
|Vermont's Roadmap to Resilience||Planning||December 16, 2013|
|Lessons Learned From Irene: Climate Change, Federal Disaster Relief and Barriers to Adaptive Reconstruction||Law and Governance||December 2013|
|Vermont Culvert Rebuilding after Tropical Storm Irene||Law and Governance||December 2013|
|Adapting Vermont’s Transportation Infrastructure to the Future Impacts of Climate Change||Solutions||August 13, 2012|
|Vermont Adaptation White Papers||Assessments||April 2011|