PRESS RELEASE: Connecticut Coalition for Climate Action releases 2024 legislative agenda

Accountability, renewable energy, efficiency top priority list

New Haven, CT – Today, the Connecticut Coalition for Climate Action announced its legislative priorities for the 2024 legislative session. The Coalition, a broad-based group of more than 40 health care providers, scientists, environmental organizations, religious groups, and others representing more than 300,000 members, was formed one year ago to address the climate crisis and environmental health burdens facing Connecticut.

Coalition members will be working together to advance four key goals for the 2024 session:

  • Modernize Connecticut’s landmark legislation, the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA)
  • Expand the pace and scale of renewable energy deployment
  • Incentivize ultra efficient buildings
  • Invest in popular energy efficiency programs that save families money, including Home Energy Solutions-Income Eligible (HES-IE) Programs

The detailed agenda can be found at www.climateactionct.org/2024-agenda.

Members of the Coalition’s Steering Committee highlighted the urgency of action this session, citing the need for Connecticut’s climate law to match the latest science on climate change by establishing a net zero emission target; sector specific targets for electricity, buildings, and transportation; and state accountability for meeting the goals of the GWSA.

“As our communities continue to experience the undeniable impacts of worsening storms and warming waters, our state is falling behind on its greenhouse gas reduction commitments,” said Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney for Save the Sound. “It’s time to treat this crisis with the seriousness it deserves, and hold ourselves accountable to meaningful action to reduce emissions. Connecticut must update its core climate law, the Global Warming Solutions Act, to ensure we honor the climate promises we’ve made.”

They further highlighted that expanding solar programs—like the Shared Community Energy Facility Resources, Residential Renewable Energy Solutions, Non-Residential Energy Solutions—and investing in the storage capacity needed to support a long-term renewable future are critical for all residents of Connecticut.

“Climate change is the biggest threat facing Connecticut,” said Samantha Dynowski, state director, Sierra Club Connecticut. “In 2024, our state legislature must take meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ramp up clean, renewable energy. They must also commit to equitably achieving both goals, ensuring justice for communities disproportionately impacted by pollution. The bold, determined change Connecticut needs will require decision makers to look past fossil fuel industry lies meant to secure investor profits and, instead, enact policies that guarantee a livable future for all of Connecticut.”

Lastly, they called for investing in and incentivizing high-efficiency building upgrades and electrification through heat pump targets and implementing no/low-interest loan programs, as well as investing in Connecticut’s existing and incredibly successful energy efficiency programs, demand for which regularly outstrips existing resources.

“Climate change is an existential threat for everyone, but the air pollution and toxics that accompany greenhouse gases are an even more immediate threat in low-wealth communities and communities of color,” said Dr. Mark Mitchell, principal at Mitchell Environmental Health Associates and co-chair of the Connecticut Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Council. “We must reduce these air toxics that are associated with greenhouse gases in order to reduce asthma, autism, and learning disabilities. In this legislative session, we encourage the General Assembly to remove the barriers that exists to adoption of energy efficiency, solar energy, and heat pumps in low-wealth and multi-family households in urban communities.”

“We call on the Connecticut General Assembly to seriously address climate change in 2024 and pass critical measures to increase deployment of solar energy and climate friendly systems for buildings like heat pumps, to fully fund energy efficiency and update climate goals. The well-being of people and nature in the near term, not just the long term, hangs in the balance. Connecticut must do its part and be a can-do example for other states and nations,” said Nathan Frohling, director of external affairs for The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut

“The climate crisis is here. Our communities are already seeing extreme heat, flooding, and health impacts, and it’s time for our leaders to step up,” said Shannon Laun, vice president for Connecticut, Conservation Law Foundation. “These commonsense legislative priorities will go a long way towards confronting this crisis.”

In addition to the four key priorities that comprise the legislative agenda, the coalition continues to call for action on clean cars and trucks. Connecticut has long been a leader on clean transportation but now is at risk of falling behind. The Coalition believes Connecticut must also adopt the California Advanced Clean Cars II (ACCII), Low Emission Vehicle (LEV IV), Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT), and Heavy-Duty Omnibus regulations no later than the first 30 days of the 2024 legislative session to get Connecticut moving in the right direction again.

“The environment—especially climate—did not make the progress we had hoped for in the last session of the Connecticut legislature,” said Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Lori Brown. “We are now in the position of catching up with our neighboring states, and facing even more intense opposition from the gas and oil industry. They have been fueling misinformation and distrust to block the transition to clean energy and clean transportation in Connecticut and across the nation. It is our job to hold lawmakers accountable for doing all they can to reduce air pollution, provide clean waterways and drinking water, and to address the overarching environmental threat of climate change.”

“In October 2023, Pope Francis released Laudate Deum, a Catholic document regarding climate change. Throughout the piece, he calls on Catholics to recognize the devastation that climate change is causing to the natural world, the animals, and the people, and he calls on readers to fulfill their roles as caretakers of the planet, saying, ‘Praise God is the title of this letter. For when human beings claim to take God’s place, they become their own worst enemies.’ Pope Francis isn’t alone—religious leaders and organizations across America are joining together in recognition of the moral, spiritual, and theological imperative for us to address climate change. The Interreligious Eco-Justice Network calls on the state legislature to pass strong climate legislation this session,” said Terri Eickel, executive director of Interreligious Eco-Justice Network.

The Coalition Steering Committee includes the American College of Physicians, CT Chapter, ConnPirg, Conservation Law Foundation, CT Health Professionals for Climate Action, CT League of Conservation Voters, Environment Connecticut, Interreligious Eco-Justice Network, Mitchell Environmental Health Associates, Peoples Action for Clean Energy, Save the Sound, Sierra Club Connecticut, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut.

More information about the Connecticut Coalition for Climate Action can be found at www.climateactionct.org.

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