The GMND, as opposed to binding legislative standards, serves as a moral philosophy under which other progressive legislation may fall. It provides a written framework that serves as a guiding principle for Vermont to revolutionize its public transportation systems, cut carbon production, terminate the extraction of fossil fuels, and move towards 100% renewable energy. While prompting rapid transitions toward sustainability, the GMND focuses equally on job creation and social justice. Connor Wertz, student organizer for Sunrise Middlebury, states that “the vision is to push the window a lot farther along the path towards progress than what we are seeing right now in Vermont. We are hoping the GMND will shift the conversation.”
The GMND is based off of the national Green New Deal (GND), which is a congressional resolution that addresses both climate change and economic inequality. Since its introduction this past February, the GND has sparked a national debate about the urgency of implementing ambitious climate solutions. Sunrise Middlebury has championed a localized version of the GND that prioritizes Vermont’s specific needs and considerations. Wertz describes the transition as one that will “reinstate [Vermont’s] lead in the nation as a place that cares for its citizens, is ecologically sound, and is on the cutting edge of policy.” Vermont is particularly vulnerable to climate change due to exacerbated storms, insect-borne disease rates, and threats to the agricultural and ski industries. Vermonters simultaneously face worsening poverty, inequality, and an affordable housing crisis. The GMND works to reimagine climate solutions as an opportunity to solve other state-wide problems.