Connecticut Climate Plan
CLIMATE CHANGE IN CONNECTICUT
In 2007, Connecticut emitted 46.10 million metric tons of CO2 — a 4 percent increase from 1990 emissions. That's more than Venezuela and Chile emit combined.
Our mean annual temperature is increasing at the rate of 1.7 degrees every 100 years — and 3.5 degrees along the southern shore of the state. Studies project temperature increases of 2.5 degrees by 2030 and 4-9 degrees by 2100. A four degree increase would make Hartford's temperature similar to Philadelphia, while a nine degree increase would make Hartford comparable to Raleigh. These temperature increases are greater than any climatic variations over the last 10,000 years.
Connecticut's shoreline is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise because it is home to so many of our citizens and so much of our transportation infrastructure. According to recent models, Long Island Sound's sea level could rise 4-8 inches above by the 2020s and up to 9-35 inches by the 2080s. (See the presentation by Nickitas Georgas of the Stevens Institute at our 2013 Long Island Sound Citizens Summit.) http://www.slideshare.net/rebeccakaplan16/sandy-and-the-big-climate-change-picture-nickitas-georgas
As we saw with storms Irene and Sandy, sea level rise and stronger storms are already increasing flooding and storm damage, with tremendous implication for the insurance industry. Without action to promote natural shorelines, sea level rise will also lead to the steady loss of the state's natural coastal resources, such as the dunes, salt marshes and coastal wetlands that normally buffer us from storms.
This temperature increase also has health consequences. A seven-degree increase in the tri-state region would raise ozone smog concentrations by nearly 20 percent. Higher temperatures are also likely to increase the prevalence of insect-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and malaria.
CONNECTICUT'S CLIMATE PLAN
Connecticut policymakers have taken these risks seriously, making Connecticut a leader on climate policy for over a decade.
The state's focus on climate change and global warming began in earnest in 2001, when the New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers signed the Climate Change Action Plan. The agreement's core principles included establishing a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving energy, educating the public about impacts of climate change and actions individuals can take, and leading by example to reduce GHG emissions from the public sector. The plan also set the state's first GHG reduction targets: 1990 levels by 2010 and 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
In 2008, the Global Warming Solutions Act (Public Act 08-98) was passed by Connecticut with strong support from CFE. This law puts us among a handful of states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey) that have committed to concrete carbon reductions in a specific time frame. The GWSA requires the state to reduce its total GHG emissions to at least 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and to at least 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2050.
In addition to legislation, Connecticut is a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade agreement among the Northeast states, established in 2006 and operational since 2008. The program covers the power generation sector only, and sets a cap on emissions of key greenhouse gases from power plants. Allowances are auctioned periodically and the proceeds divided up among the member states. Connecticut reinvests much of its share in energy efficiency, and has seen good returns as a result.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
We work closely with partners in other nonprofit organizations, businesses, and in state government to pass legislation that will help Connecticut meet our climate goals. As we focus on the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act, allies in our Climate & Energy Solutions Action Coalition help by showing lawmakers that parents, doctors, nurses, business owners, garden clubs, first selectmen, and many more support strong action to cut our emissions.
Meeting Connecticut's goals will require greenhouse gas reductions from every sector of the economy, so we tackle emissions wherever we can. We advocate for policies that will make our homes, commercial buildings and public buildings more energy efficient, by updating building codes, securing funding to programs that help homeowners improve efficiency, and rewarding developers and building owners who invest in energy efficiency.
We also support actions that reduce emissions from dirty power plants and that make Connecticut a friendly business climate for fuel cell, solar and wind innovation. When necessary, we take legal action to combat power plant and industrial sources of pollution that violate state or federal law. Automobiles are responsible for approximately 40% of the state's climate change pollution, so we have helped cut emissions from the transportation sector by instituting Clean Car standards and expanding Connecticut's public transit network.
CFE is committed to continuing to support the programs that are reducing our state's greenhouse gas emissions, and to working with all partners to explore new ways to cut emissions from every sector and meet Connecticut's climate goals.