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 with 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.”

Vulnerability Assessment

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.

Adaptation Initiatives

The state has also implemented programs and initiatives to prepare for the impacts of climate change across a range of sectors:

  • In 2012, ANR's Forests, Parks and Recreation Department began using three plots of state land to test and demonstrate adaptive forest management strategies. The results of these studies and a recommended land management practices are captured in ANR’s 2015 guide to Creating and Maintaining Resilient Forests in Vermont. In 2013, ANR proposed an Adaptation Framework for the state’s wildlife, fisheries, forests, and water resources. This framework both identifies climate impacts on the state’s natural resources and highlights relevant adaptation strategies.
  • In 2015, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development developed the Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative (VERI) to help Vermont communities identify steps to reduce the economic risks of future flood damage. The 2015 VERI Project Report describes steps to enhance economic resilience, including: data gathering, community ranking, community engagement, policy review, and steps to identify project recommendations.
  • The state has also taken actions to enhance the resilience of the agricultural sector, as detailed in this Georgetown Climate Center case study.

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 consider 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: August 22, 2018).



 
 
 

State Law and Policy

Resource Name Resource Type Date
Vermont Governor's Climate Cabinet and State Agency Climate Action Plan (Executive Order 15-12) Law and Governance December 28, 2012

State Agency Plans

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

Local and Regional Plans

Resource Name Date
Burlington, Vermont Climate Action Plan 2014

More Featured Resources

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
 

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