There has been a fascinating conversation taking place in Vermont over the last several years — a conversation about whether “environmentalism” and “entrepreneurialism” can exist together. It is a conversation driven, in part, by the anticipated effects of climate change and the challenge to do something about it.
Of course, in Vermont the economy and the environment are deeply intertwined. For most — if not all — of our history, we have relied a great deal on our unique and healthy environment to support a vibrant and evolving working landscape. From tourism to the maple industry, from forest products to craft beer and more, Vermont has birthed livelihoods that both depend on and contribute to a healthy and sustainable environment. I have participated in this conversation with thoughtful and diverse people who love Vermont and who are deeply motivated to think about how we can create value, affordability, prosperity — and environmental sustainability — by approaching climate change and its related challenges with creativity, innovation and thoughtfulness.
I serve as the chairman of the Vermont Climate Economy Action Team, which is a diverse group of Vermonters representing the business, economic development, tourism, finance, workforce development, low-income advocacy, solid waste and energy communities. CEAT is dedicated to ensuring that Vermont not only leads in identifying solutions to climate change, but grasps the economic opportunities this challenge presents. These opportunities lie within advancing the climate economy — initiatives that expand distributed energy generation and efficiency, cultivate climate economy entrepreneurs and startup businesses, and ultimately reduce Vermont’s carbon dependence while boosting economic development, creating jobs and attracting youth and creative entrepreneurs to the state.
As we begin this new phase of Vermont’s history, we are already seeing a surprising opportunity emerge. Relatively…