For more than a century, concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs) like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) have been rapidly increasing in Earth’s atmosphere. This buildup of GHGs boosts the atmosphere’s natural effectiveness at capturing and retaining the heat energy we receive from the Sun, which in turn causes our planet to warm. The scientific consensus is that emissions from human activities are responsible for almost all of the continued rise in atmospheric GHG concentrations, and warming of our planet that has been documented during our modern industrial era.
More and more fossil fuels are combusted each year to generate our electricity, power our vehicles, heat and cool our buildings, grow and transport our food, adding 35 billion more tons of GHG emissions to the atmosphere each year. Atmospheric concentrations of these GHGs have now reached levels that are higher than anything experienced in at least 800,000 years, and will continue to rise unless we take substantial actions to reduce our energy consumption and emissions. Leading climate scientists warn that we must act quickly to reduce GHG emissions and limit the amount of future warming. Failure to do so will greatly increase the likelihood of severe climate-related risks to people and our environment.
To learn more about Vermont's GHG emissions and other climate change-related information, please visit the Greenhouse Gas Emissions page.