Charting CT’s climate path: GC3 workgroup reports

The Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) is charged with figuring out how to turn Connecticut’s climate goals into an actionable path. Save the Sound’s president sits on the Council, and our climate and energy attorney, ecological restoration director, and Soundkeeper have each been helping shape that path.

Seven workgroups have spent the last year drilling down on specific actions in their respective arenas:

  • Equity and Environmental Justice
  • Financing Adaptation and Resilience
  • Infrastructure and Land Use Adaptation
  • Progress on Mitigation Strategies
  • Public Health and Safety
  • Science and Technology
  • Working and Natural Lands

Each workgroup has issued its draft recommendations for reducing emissions, adapting to a more volatile climate, and ensuring health and justice, and now the Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection is seeking public input on them.

Make your voice heard—send CT DEEP your comments.

Here are key strengths of the reports we support, and measures we think could be improved on.

Save the Sound particularly supports these recommendations, and urges their inclusion in the final reports:

  1. Strengthen alignment between the state’s decision-making and its greenhouse gas reduction goals. All regulatory decisions should be evaluated for consistency with meeting Global Warming Solutions Act targets.
  2. Move climate adaptation and resiliency measures—like nature-based solutions, forest and wetland protection, urban green infrastructure and tree planting, and making low/moderate income housing energy efficient and healthy—from demonstration project scale to widespread adoption and protection.
  3. Support robust, equitable state funding and financing (leveraged and matched by federal and local sources) for emissions reduction and adaptation programs. This is a large ($150-600 million/year) investment. Promising sources include:
    • adopting the Transportation & Climate Initiative (up to $250 m/yr) and increasing the petroleum gross profits tax (~$100 m/yr). Connecticut can help ensure robust TCI implementation that drives down emissions while reinvesting auction proceeds in other high-impact and equitable programs;
    • increasing or re-directing state bonding (up to $70 m/yr);
    • adopting the Maryland “flush tax” model (up to $75 m/yr).
  4. Reduce stormwater pollution and flooding, and help municipalities afford green infrastructure and resiliency investments, by passing statewide enabling legislation for stormwater authorities.
  5. Target future building projects to already-developed areas, and prioritize the conservation and preservation of naturally-resilient coastal marsh, dunes, and forests.
  6. Develop and fund a community engagement strategy to inform the 2021 GC3 process and implementation, including grants for community-based NGOs partners and ensuring environmental justice perspectives are integral to the process.

The reports could be made even stronger, however. We’re asking CT DEEP to consider these additions and modifications to build the ambitious climate mitigation, resilience, and justice plan Connecticut needs:

  1. Emphasize the importance and urgency of strong climate mitigation action, by:
    • highlighting the current and projected impacts of climate change in Connecticut, including health and economic impacts;
    • identifying the greenhouse gas reduction potential of suggested projects;
    • prioritizing, among the many valuable ideas in the reports, the highest-impact polices that will be most effective in driving down emissions and transitioning to a carbon-free economy.
  2. Eliminate, not just “phase down,” biomass as an eligible resource in the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). If we are to achieve our climate goals, we can’t keep subsidizing dirty energy sources.
  3. Add dams to the proposed statewide GIS database of culverts, flood gates, tide gates, and other water control structures, and create a dynamic list that prioritizes structures for replacement, removal, and/or modification—including identifying dams that are vulnerable to our changing climate, and ensuring culverts can handle 100-year floods and allow migratory fish to pass.
  4. Encourage municipalities to adopt green infrastructure as a first-choice solution to flooding and stormwater pollution.
  5. Together, this suite of policies can reduce Connecticut’s contribution to climate change and help our region adapt to the changes that are already occurring—while protecting public health, generating good jobs, and protecting vulnerable communities from storms, flooding, and air pollution.

Our easy form has these comments pre-filled, and you can customize it to highlight your own climate priorities. Take three minutes to send CT DEEP your thoughts now!

The GC3 has also been holding a series of virtual public forums on the draft reports. Join the final wrap-up session this coming Monday for another way to make your voice heard.

Oct. 19, 4:30-6 p.m. – Public Review Period Wrap-up (Register)

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