The line of mountains that etches across the sky in northern Vermont forms some of the most iconic images of our state. Mount Mansfield is part of the Vermont crest and Camel’s Hump is featured on our state quarter. These mountains are more than a scenic backdrop. They are key to the character of Vermont and a mainstay for tourism, one of our largest industries. But what happens when buildings go up along scenic roadways that obscure these views for the general public? What can we do to protect these assets? Views to the Mountain: A Scenic Resource Manual, just published for the towns of Essex and Jericho by Smart Growth Vermont, details a scenic assessment process and provides solutions towns can adopt.The towns of Essex and Jericho joined forces to address these issues by performing a comprehensive scenic assessment of their roads. The Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission assisted with mapping and data analysis. Based on the information they gained, and recommendations for bylaw language and scenic overlay districts provided by Smart Growth Vermont, the towns have put the platform in place to protect their scenic views for future generations.‘This is groundbreaking work for the protection of scenic viewsheds in Essex and Jericho,’ said Essex Community Development Director Dana Farley. ‘The views to Mount Mansfield are emphasized in both towns, but the data collection and photo-inventory captured many features typical to roadside scenery across Vermont. The manual can be model for all our communities.’ The assessment, bylaw language and solutions for everything from parking to recommended siding and roof colors have been pulled together into which can be downloaded from the Smart Growth Vermont website.Smart Growth Vermont is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to forging growth and conservation solutions for Vermont communities and working rural lands. We work both on-the-ground in communities and at the state level to help develop and implement land use legislation designed to foster growth that works to strengthen our downtowns and village centers while conserving our working landscape and open areas. For more information, please visit Smart Growth Vermont’s website at www.smartgrowthvermont.org(link is external).###
PFA, Denmark’s biggest commercial pension fund, says it is launching a new market-rate investment option for pension customers, in which the underlying investments will be carbon negative in 10 years’ time.The DKK576bn (€77bn) mutual pensions giant warned of potential short-term volatility in the product, but said long-term risk levels would be the same as those of its main product.Allan Polack, PFA chief executive officer, said: “With PFA Climate Plus, we wish to set a new standard for sustainable pension investments to counteract the vast climate changes, which are a cause for concern for many of our customers.”The pension fund said asset selection for its new product would be a two-step process. Potential investments would first be examined against PFA’s existing criteria – potential for strong returns and its policy on responsible investment and active ownership – and secondly, using climate-focused criteria, assessing an investment’s contribution to the green transition. “The investment of pension savings is one of most significant ways in which an individual can make a difference,” said Polack.In the long term, PFA Climate Plus will have the same level of risk and return expectations as the market-rate product PFA Plus, the firm said. But because the climate-focused selection criteria reduced the availability of potential investments, it said returns might fluctuate more in isolated periods.The move follows the launch last June by Danish mutual pensions provider AP Pension of a sustainable pension investment option, which allows customers to use their money to contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the green energy transition.AP Pension said at the time that all bonds within the product – AP Sustainable – would be green bonds, while the option’s equity mix would only contain firms generating at least 60% of revenue from activities associated with one or more of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.PFA said its new sustainable pensions product is to emit 60% less CO2 than the MSCI World Index and be completely carbon neutral by 2025 at the latest.“The ambition is a CO2-negative portfolio by 2030, meaning that it will pull more CO2 from the atmosphere than the investments emit,” the Copenhagen-based firm said. PFA also said it expects a segment of the new fund to be dedicated to venture capital, focusing particularly on tech companies whose activities could potentially speed up the green transition.The pension fund said PFA Climate Plus will be available to customers from this summer.