PRESS RELEASE: New CT Coalition for Climate Action forged to promote state solutions to “the greatest crisis in history”

New Haven, CT—Environmental organizations, medical professionals, and environmental justice advocates have formed a new coalition focused on state and local solutions to the climate crisis. The Connecticut Coalition for Climate Action came together to help elected officials strengthen the state’s climate law, the Global Warming Solutions Act, to reflect the urgency of the climate crisis and ensure accountability, and to put Connecticut back on the path to fulfilling its commitments.

The Connecticut Coalition for Climate Action appreciates Governor Ned Lamont’s comments earlier today at a Climate Action Week press event at McAuliffe Park in East Hartford, CT.

Gov. Lamont declared March 22 through March 29, 2023 as Climate Action Week. In the proclamation, the governor recognized that “states and their residents have a unique opportunity to reduce emissions within their borders through their individual and shared actions” and stated that “it is vital that the State of Connecticut rise to the challenge of the greatest crisis in history, by joining local and global efforts to eliminate reliance on fossil fuels and work toward transitioning to an economy based on clean renewable energy, green buildings, and sustainable transportation.”

Governor Ned Lamont gestures at solar panels in front of Anna E. Norris Elementary School, flanked by East Hartford Mayor Michael Walsh (gray jacket) and members of the CT Coalition for Climate Action. (Photo: Save the Sound)

The timing could not be more appropriate. Earlier this week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its final report; in a video message, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called it “a survival guide for humanity.” While the report acknowledges that some progress has been made in the global effort to prevent temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, it acknowledges that additional, significant, immediate actions are required to “defuse the climate time bomb.”

Members of the Connecticut Coalition for Climate Action steering committee—comprised of American College of Physicians – CT Chapter, CT League of Conservation Voters, Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Connecticut, Mark Mitchell, M.D., scholar-activist Kat Morris, Save the Sound, Sierra Club – CT Chapter, and The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut—responded to the report and to the governor’s proclamation.

Members of the CT Coalition for Climate Action with Governor Lamont’s proclamation, in front of an air quality monitoring station in East Hartford. L-R: Denise Stranko, Save the Sound; Alex Rodriguez, Save the Sound; Ana McMonigle, Conservation Law Foundation; Charles Rothenberger, Save the Sound; Chris Phelps, Environment Connecticut; Lori Brown, CT League of Conservation Voters; Ann Gadwah, Sierra Club – CT Chapter; Samantha Dynowski, Sierra Club – CT Chapter. (Photo: Save the Sound)

“All people are affected by climate change, but some people are more affected,” said Dr. Mark Mitchell, co-chair of the Connecticut Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Council. “Children, elderly, low-income people, and many people of color suffer the health effects of fossil fuel pollution, which leads to asthma, heart disease, and learning disabilities. Climate action has immediate health benefits, and if done with purpose, can address health disparities and move us toward environmental Justice.”

“If Connecticut needed any evidence that it must redouble its efforts to address climate change, that evidence was provided by the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This fresh data unequivocally shows we must pick up the pace and scale of emissions reductions globally,” said Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney, Save the Sound. “Meanwhile the latest from COP27 demonstrates that while conversations are happening on a global and national scale, the true ability to limit those emissions is squarely in the hands of the states that regulate activities and inspire personal action. To that end, Connecticut has both the power and the obligation to do its part and be a model to others. We are grateful that Governor Lamont is shining a light on this unique moment for state action through Climate Action Week. Our goal is to help the state seize this opportunity.”

“Connecticut’s failure to meaningfully reduce climate-destroying greenhouse gas emissions indicates we have much, much, much more to do, said Samantha Dynowski, state director, Sierra Club CT. “The state legislature must pass bills to stop digging ourselves further into the fossil fuel hole, quickly transition to 100 percent clean and renewable energy, and do it equitably—in our buildings, transportation, and electricity generation. Now is the time for action to protect the health and future of Connecticut families.”

“We are proud to be part of the Coalition for Climate Action—there is no greater cause than to assure our children have a future free of climate catastrophe and Connecticut must do its part, said Nathan Frohling, director of external affairs, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “That is why we urge the Connecticut legislature to pass key climate legislation they have before them, particularly to update and strengthen the Global Warming Solutions Act. We believe this is key to turning good intentions into real action.”

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes speaks on the agency’s climate, environmental justice, and waste management priorities, flanked by East Hartford Mayor Michael Walsh (gray jacket) and members of the CT Coalition for Climate Action. (Photo: Save the Sound)

“As this week’s U.N. report makes abundantly clear, we’re running out of time to confront the climate crisis,” said Ana McMonigle, staff attorney, the Conservation Law Foundation.  “We must immediately slash our polluting emissions, prepare our communities, and invest in clean renewable energy. Governor Lamont has recognized the need to combat climate change and its effects, and now it’s time for our legislators to step up and meet the moment.”

“Last year was a banner year for climate in Connecticut. Governor Lamont has consistently prioritized clean air, renewable energy and public health during his Administration’s first term, said Lori Brown, executive director, CT League of Conservation Voters. “He has been outspoken in his support for climate action and has introduced and signed major environmental bills into law that will reduce carbon emissions. Today’s landmark proclamation is further proof of Governor Lamont’s continued commitment to combat climate change going forward and CTLCV is excited to support Climate Action Week.”

“Fifteen years ago, Connecticut set big goals for fighting climate change. Now we need serious leadership to implement solutions to cut pollution and achieve those goals,” said Chris Phelps, director, Environment Connecticut. “Governor Lamont and legislators from both parties should act now to hold state agencies accountable for actually cutting pollution, shift to 100 percent clean, renewable energy, and end the use of dirty and dangerous fossil fuels in new buildings.”

Climate Action Week 2023 will include a series of events (updated frequently) to encourage residents to take meaningful action at home. Visit Events | Climate Action CT to learn about social media days, webinars, panel discussions, and more.

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