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Vermont could become the first US state to make biggest emitters pay for climate-related damages. Domestic Loss&Damage?

Today is Friday, 24 May 2024.


The World is more and more frequently seeing highly destructive and scary meteorology events and in places never seen before: extreme heatwaves, destructive waters,  winds that hurt, football-size hail, etc.


And depending on how powerful - or not - the impacted jurisdiction is, it might end up in a David and Goliath situation.


Last July 2023, the normally warm and humid summer of New England in United States was disrupted by a series of unusually heavy rain storms. Flash floods broke creek banks and washed away roads, inundating several cities and towns. Vermont in particular saw immense damage, as you can see in this document “Vermont. Atlas of Disaster”, by clicking at the image below.


Taxpayers - which in some countries are called “contributors” - everywhere have been experiencing rising costs from the impacts of climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency currently places the social cost of carbon at $190 per ton. Give a look at this report from November 2023.


epa_scghg_2023_report_final
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Download PDF • 9.24MB



It happens that last May 10, the Vermont Senate gave final approval to landmark legislation that holds the largest fossil fuel companies financially accountable for a portion of the costs of climate change. Senators approved the so-called Climate Superfund Act (S.259). Earlier, 106 of the 150 members of the House of Representatives voted in favor of the legislation.


This legislative result, a significant support in both chambers, reflects the national public opinion. A poll from December 2023 showed that 66% of voters in United States (US) support making polluters pay for the consequences of their actions.


Vermont’s S.259 bill is largely modeled after the federal government’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the “superfund” which holds polluters responsible for toxic waste spills.



New York, Massachusetts, California and Maryland are other states were lawmakers are also advocating similar legislation, towards introducing climate Superfund bills.


Back to Vermont, the local Governor now may veto the bill, sign it, or take no action. If he takes no action, the bill automatically becomes law after five days. Should he veto it, the Legislature may take up an override in June.


This type of law faces an almost certain legal challenge but advocates say the bill is a pioneering attempt to use science for accountability.


Click here or here if you are interested in monitoring Vermont’s S.259 bill.




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“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty”

Madame Marie Curie (1867 - 1934) Chemist & physicist. French, born Polish.

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