New Haven, CT—Members of the CT Coalition for Climate Action have reviewed the 1990-2021 Connecticut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, released by the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection this morning, and found the report supports the urgency of legislative action this spring.
Connecticut’s latest greenhouse gas inventory asserts that the state has met its relatively modest 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target set in the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act. However, Connecticut is not on track to meet its 2030 and 2050 commitments, and currently, state agencies aren’t required to consider climate impacts when making decisions that could increase pollution. Moreover, the latest science now says steeper reductions than those established in 2008 are necessary to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. Meanwhile, Connecticut is falling behind its neighboring states, many of which have already recognized in law the need for more aggressive reductions and accountability measures.
To protect our communities and build a strong future for Connecticut, we must update the law with the best science available and strengthen it by making it more enforceable. We also need measures to actually achieve the reductions and protect public health.
The CT Coalition for Climate Action is calling for the state to strengthen its climate law, the Global Warming Solutions Act, to reflect the urgency of the climate crisis; ensure accountability; and put Connecticut back on the path to fulfilling its commitments. Specifically, the Coalition calls for legislation this session to update and strengthen the Global Warming Solutions Act by:
(1) Updating greenhouse gas emission targets to reflect the best
(2) Establishing clear accountability for state agency decision-making that supports the state’s GHG reduction obligations under the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA);
(3) Expanding authority for state agencies to adopt policies and regulations to meet our GHG reduction obligations;
(4) Providing for citizen enforcement of the GWSA; and
(5) Establishing a Connecticut decarbonization roadmap.
In addition, the Coalition is backing legislation that will invest in energy efficiency and make our homes greener; make our communities more resilient; expand cleaner transportation options through modern clean car standards; and ensure overburdened neighborhoods have the tools they need to stand up to polluters by strengthening Connecticut’s environmental justice law. DEEP’s own report contains a section identifying recommended policy solutions to climate change, which includes these measures and others.
Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney, Save the Sound, said, “Connecticut’s new greenhouse gas inventory report underscores the urgent need for increased efforts to reduce emissions to meet our commitments and keep pace with our neighboring states. The COVID-era data show how quickly emissions can rebound without strong policies in place. Achieving the necessary reductions for 2030 and beyond will require deeper, more rapid emissions reductions from the building and transportation sectors in particular, and policies to ensure those reductions are sustained. We must establish a framework of accountability, authority, and enforceability that includes requiring agencies to incorporate an evaluation of climate impacts in their decision-making, providing agencies with the authority to adopt policies necessary to meet our climate obligations, and ensuring that citizens have the ability to enforce the Global Warming Solutions Act when agencies fail to act.”
Samantha Dynowski, state director, Sierra Club Connecticut, said, “DEEP’s latest greenhouse gas inventory shows the state met the 2020 reduction target, but major contributing factors include impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and new accounting methods. If Connecticut is serious about meeting our next target in 2030, Governor Lamont and our state legislators must proactively reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and invest only in clean and renewable electricity, vehicles, and buildings. With determination from state leaders, we can clean our air, mitigate the consequences of the climate crisis, and save lives.”
“Despite all the evidence that Connecticut continues to come up short on air quality and emissions goals, opponents to climate action don’t care about the facts,” said Lori Brown, executive director of the CT League of Conservation Voters. “The arguments from the fossil fuel industry are the same no matter what policy they oppose: ‘too soon, too extreme, too costly, it’s anti-business, and make it voluntary please.’ Our elected leaders must look beyond those tropes and support legislation this year to get our state on track to hit our climate goals.”
Ana McMonigle, staff attorney for Conservation Law Foundation Connecticut, said, “The action we take today is critical to slowing the climate crisis and reducing its impacts. The greenhouse gas emissions inventory makes clear that, although Connecticut has made some progress in cutting emissions, we must significantly accelerate these efforts to meet the targets laid out in the state’s climate law. It’s time to slash emissions from transportation and buildings to clean up our air and ensure a healthy planet for future generations.”
“The GHG Emissions Inventory—regardless of the numbers—is a reminder that we need to be laser focused on taking action to address climate change. Making significant progress every year is critical to meeting the greatest challenge we face to life on earth as we know it,” said Nathan Frohling, director of external affairs for The Nature Conservancy of Connecticut.
Public Act 08-98, the Global Warming Solutions Act, was passed in 2008 and requires the state to reduce its total emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane to at least 10 percent below 1990 emission levels by 2020, and to at least 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2050. The law also requires DEEP to issue a series of reports on Connecticut’s progress toward the goals. In recent years, the legislature has added a 45 percent reduction requirement for 2030, and established a 100 percent zero carbon electricity standard by 2040.
The CT Coalition for Climate Action comprises environmental advocates, health experts, labor and municipal representatives, and others advocating for climate action in Connecticut. Formed in 2023, the Coalition’s central demand is that Connecticut keep its promise to cut climate pollution and protect our future. Members of the coalition’s steering committee are Save the Sound, American College of Physicians – CT Chapter, CT League of Conservation Voters, Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Connecticut, Mark Mitchell, M.D., scholar-activist Kat Morris, Sierra Club – CT Chapter, and The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. More information at www.climateactionct.org.