On Town Meeting Day, Vermont residents from 34 towns voted overwhelmingly in favor of resolutions seeking climate solutions. The exact wording of each resolution varied, but all the resolutions acknowledged the severity of climate change, urged the State of Vermont to meet its goals for 90% renewable energy, and called for a fair and equitable transition off fossil fuels. The majority of the resolutions also demanded a ban on any new fossil fuel infrastructure, such as natural gas pipelines. In many towns the resolutions passed unanimously, and every resolution passed where it was on the agenda or ballot. In Montpelier, the resolution passed via Australian ballot, 1715 to 500. In Brattleboro, the margin was even larger, 910 in favor, 180 opposed.
The complete list of towns include: Arlington, Bennington, Bethel, Brattleboro, Bristol, Burlington, Calais, Cornwall, Dorset, Dummerston, East Montpelier, Greensboro, Guilford, Huntington, Lincoln, Manchester, Marlboro, Marshfield, Monkton, Montpelier, Peacham, Peru, Plainfield, Putney, Sharon, Stowe, Strafford, Thetford, Tunbridge, Wardsboro, Weston, Williston, Woodbury, and Worcester.
“There was literally no debate about the resolution and it passed overwhelmingly, 116 to 1,” said Stuart Blood from Thetford. “That’s probably because the thread of climate change was woven throughout the meeting. Thetford suffered the most damage of any community in the state from the July 1, 2017 flooding. We got hit with almost $5 million in damage to our public infrastructure, not counting damage to private property.”
Beginning in November 2017, organizers and volunteers with 350Vermont and other affiliated groups drafted their resolutions town by town and collected the required signatures to get their resolutions warned for Town Meeting Day.
“Every corner of Vermont has been impacted by climate change, with either floods, increased Lyme disease, wind storms, reduced snow, or shortened sugaring seasons,” said Maeve McBride, director of 350Vermont. “So, it’s not surprising that we see these resolutions passing in 10 different Vermont counties. Clearly, Vermonters are not happy with the State’s meager progress, and they want to see more action on climate change.”
Vermont youth were involved in the efforts to pass the resolution in many towns. According to Jean Freebern from Arlington, “Sofie Pedemonti, a 12th grader, and Cassidy Pickering, an 8th grader, stepped right up to the microphone and belted out the resolution, beautifully, [which was] followed by a burst of loud applause.” Olivia Voth from Champlain Valley Union High School also spoke in Williston. One youth led a petitioning effort in Rupert, but because of a technicality in the wording, the resolution was not on the agenda, despite a successful petition.
“We had a very successful evening in Manchester because the whole community voted in favor of the resolution,” said Letitia Scordino of Dorset and member of Earth Matters. “We had such an outpouring of support from the community that we couldn’t possibly lose.”
This resolution, like many Town Meeting Day resolutions, is advisory and non-binding, but historically town resolutions have influenced the state legislature and can even have an impact on the national level. Several towns are already planning their next steps.
“We at 350 Brattleboro will continue to push for meaningful action on a town and state level and I can imagine many more people joining us in this work,” said Daniel Quipp of 350Brattleboro. “We’ll be pushing for town leaders to turn the suggestions contained in our resolution into local policy. We’ll also be welcoming more and more people into the climate movement, asking them to join us in advocating for solutions that live up to Vermont’s climate and energy goals.”
350Vermont is a statewide organization in Vermont working to build a grassroots movement to reverse climate change. 350Vermont’s mission is to organize, educate, and support people in Vermont to work together for climate justice – resisting fossil fuels, building momentum for alternatives, and transforming our communities toward justice and resilience. Although we are an affiliated group of 350.org with a similar mission, 350VT is an independent organization, with local campaigns to divest from fossil fuel investments, advocate for a carbon pollution tax, and stop any expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.