FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2016
Executive Order Incentivizes Divestment, Environmentally Responsible Business Practices
On July 19th 2016 Governor Peter Shumlin signed Executive Order NO. 05-16 directing the Secretary of Administration to include in the guidelines for state procurement favorable consideration to businesses employing practices that mitigate climate change, among these, offering employees a fossil fuel free retirement investment account option.
Other favorable practices include use of thermal and electric efficiency and conservation measures, as well as use of renewable energy sources for daily operations. Additional factors to be considered are efforts to reduce and track carbon emissions, use of and encouraging employee adoption of electrical and zero emissions vehicles, and whether a business's supplies or services offered promote waste, energy, and water efficiency. The Executive Order also leaves room for other factors related to environmentally responsible practices deemed relevant by the Secretary of Administration.
“While other Governors and some Presidential candidates dismiss human caused climate change, Vermont Governor Shumlin is proposing solutions that will address climate change by creating incentives, encouraging private business to do the responsible thing in investing in renewables while also divesting from the worst culprits of climate change,” stated Robb Kidd, Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club Conservation Program Manager. “Governor Shumlin’s Executive order is climate leadership in action.”
Vermont has continually maintained a responsible track to address climate change, with a comprehensive energy plan calling for a 90 percent renewable energy by the year 2050. In addition to these well recognized goals, the conversation around environmental impacts has taken on a holistic approach. In the past legislative session, the Governor and State Legislature urged the state pension funds to divest from coal and ExxonMobil.
“These are all factors that our state is taking in its day-to-day business, so it is common sense to use our state’s purchasing powers to hold up the same standards,” said Austin Davis, Policy and Communications Coordinator with 350 Vermont. “Vermonters are very aware that their dollars’ final destination is an indication of the world they will see and we want to see more businesses implementing practices that will foster a healthy environment for future Vermonters.”
The Vermont Pension Investment Committee (VPIC) is actively investigating how the fund may divest from fossil fuels in a manner consistent with its fiduciary responsibility. Environmental, fossil fuel, and labor advocates have taken part in an ongoing discussion facilitated by the VPIC’s subcommittee on divestment to better understand how the Vermont pension fund may adapt to take into consideration the imminent effects of climate change on the pension fund.
Stakeholders now await the results of a June 20th Request for Proposals (RFP) by the Treasurer’s Office for a financial firm to undertake a “consensus study” alongside VPIC’s existing pension consultant, New England Pension Consultants LLC (NEPC). A preliminary decision will be made by the end of July.
About 350 Vermont: 350 Vermont is a statewide organization in Vermont working to build a grassroots movement to reverse climate change. 350 Vermont’s mission is to catalyze the cultural and systemic transformation needed to reverse climate change and return to 350 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere. Although we are an affiliated group of 350.org with a similar mission, 350VT is an independent organization, with local campaigns to divest the state pension fund, advocate for a carbon pollution tax, and stop any expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.
About Vermont Chapter of Sierra Club: The Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club is a volunteer-led affiliate of the national Sierra Club. The Sierra Club is America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide and 9,000-plus members and supporters in Vermont. The Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation.