PRESS RELEASE: Growing Momentum for Climate Action

Coalition’s advocacy day brings together legislators and constituents

Hartford, CT – In an impressive response to public demand for climate action, almost a third of Connecticut state legislators are now co-sponsoring the year’s most important climate bill. As supporters convened at the Capitol yesterday to call for action on renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, and climate accountability, the number of co-sponsors for House Bill 5004 swelled to 56.

“It’s no secret the legislature has been failing to enact significant climate policy over the past few years,” said Rep. Brandon Chaffee, chair of the Climate Caucus. “We now find ourselves falling behind our neighboring states, our own emission reduction targets, and most importantly the scientific consensus on what needs to be done to prevent climate calamity. This increases the urgency to act and pass meaningful legislation this session, and I see these bills as a course correction to help get us back on track. By updating our carbon reduction goals to match the scientific consensus, and creating a plan to attain them, these bills will allow us to regain our footing and continue to work toward a stable and clean future for all.”

“The urgency of addressing the climate crisis is immediate and lasting in ways that cannot be overstated,” said Rep. Christine Palm, Vice Chair of the Environment Committee. “These three bills are a good start. Each of them represents compromises that are more than reasonable, and address concerns from many stakeholders—from environmentalists to industry representatives to state agencies. And yet, these bills all ‘have teeth,’ and that is absolutely critical to moving the needle forward.”

Representative Christine Palm speaking in support of Climate Action at the Press Conference

On April 3, advocates from the Connecticut Coalition for Climate Action (CCCA), members of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Climate Caucus, and other legislators gathered at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford in support of HB 5004 and other priority climate, clean transportation, and energy bills as a part of a “Sound Off for Climate Action” press conference and advocacy day. At the event, Senator Saud Anwar, Representative Christine Palm, Representative Brandon Chafee, Representative Aundre Bumgardner, and Save the Sound spoke to the press and public attendees from across Connecticut about opportunities for climate action this session.

“We can never take the air that we breathe and that keeps us healthy for granted,” said Senator Saud Anwar, a physician with training in lung diseases and public health. “Legislative efforts to support our climate are in the name of our children and future generations for a safe, healthy future. The time to act was yesterday, but today is even more critical.”

Rep. Aundre Bumgardner said, “I strongly support legislation that promotes solar energy at schools, transitions to electric vehicles, and decarbonizes our homes. This initiative is about championing environmental justice and safeguarding public health, fostering a cleaner, more resilient environment for all and ensuring the preservation of native wildlife, plants, trees, and the delicate ecosystems of places like Long Island Sound.”

“Our quality of life depends on having a healthy and sustainable environment. HB 5004, HB 5485, and HB 5232 acknowledge that reality and help us address the crisis while advancing green technologies. If we don’t act, our children and grandchildren will pay the price,” said Senator Derek Slap.

Following the press conference, speakers from Save the Sound, Sierra Club Connecticut, Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, and Acadia Center held a training on effective grassroots advocacy and a briefing to update participants on the progress and impact of key legislation:

HB 5004, An Act Concerning the Implementation of Certain Climate Change Measures, takes steps to address climate change and protect public health by updating the Global Warming Solutions Act, reducing our reliance on natural gas, investing in renewable energy, and leveraging nature-based solutions.

HB 5485, An Act Concerning Transportation Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles, will help to support the growing number of electric vehicles by creating a council to coordinate infrastructure deployment, improving rebate programs, expanding funding for charging stations, and studying how to improve mobility options in rural areas.

HB 5232, An Act Concerning Solar Projects Throughout the State, aims to increase solar energy capacity by establishing targets for residential solar deployment, implementing consistent municipal tax treatment of solar panels, simplifying the approval process for solar canopies, and directing the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to make recommendations for new community solar initiatives.

To end the day, constituents of over a dozen districts visited the offices of their legislators, urging them to hold the state accountable for its climate promises, including greenhouse gas reductions legally required under the Global Warming Solutions Act, and thanking those who are already co-sponsoring HB 5004.

Participants talking at the legislative action training

With the legislative session at its halfway point, it’s more important than ever to highlight the widespread support for climate action in Connecticut—according to polling by Yale, approximately 3 in 4 state residents want to see stronger policies to combat climate change. Members of the Connecticut Coalition for Climate Action are hosting a series of events to keep up momentum, including upcoming rope-line days on April 10, April 17, April 24, and May 1, during which participants can ask legislators outside the House and Senate chambers to support priority legislation. Register here: Events | Climate Action CT

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 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, People’s Action for Clean Energy, Save the Sound, Sierra Club CT, and The Nature Conservancy in CT. More information at www.climateactionct.org.

Here’s what steering committee members had to say about the advocacy event and priority legislation:

“We’ve known for years that Connecticut is falling behind in meeting our climate obligations,” said Charles Rothenberger, Climate and Energy Attorney for Save the Sound. “Fortunately, the bills highlighted today will help to reverse this trajectory and put us back on the path to addressing climate responsibly. Together, these bills update our climate reduction targets in line with the best available science, plan for reducing our reliance on natural gas, expand solar deployment, and plan for an increasingly electrified transportation future.”

“The people gathered here today are a testament to the fact that fighting climate change is top-of-mind for Connecticut residents—and we want to see action from our state leaders now,” said Shannon Laun, Vice President of CLF Connecticut. “That’s why our legislators must pass House Bill 5004, the Connecticut Climate Protection Act. Cutting the pollution overheating our planet to net zero by 2050 is pivotal to protect our families from the devastating impacts of climate change.”

“There is no question that we are in a climate crisis and no time to waste debating whether or not to take action. The bills on the table this session will reverse the inaction of last year and get us moving towards our state’s goals to reduce the pollution causing climate change,” said Connecticut League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Lori Brown. “While most lawmakers are voicing their strong support for this important climate legislation, it is always surprising to hear certain legislators question the need for action—or that climate change is even happening. We will be sure to let their constituents know how they vote on these bills.”

“We call on both the House and Senate of the CT General Assembly to pass HB 5004, the CT Climate Protection Act. This is the most comprehensive, no-nonsense bill in the CT legislature that addresses the urgent issue of climate change. From updating the Global Warming Solutions Act to business-friendly climate-related measures, the bill is built on carrots, not sticks, and we need it now for our health, economy, labor force, and quality of life. We look forward to joining Climate Action Day this Wednesday to urge lawmakers to co-sponsor the bill,” said Nathan Frohling, Director of External Affairs for The Nature Conservancy in CT.

“People of faith are called to help people who are suffering, ill, or in need. Climate change impacts everyone, but especially people who are poor, sick, or vulnerable,” said Terri Eickel, Executive Director for the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network. “Religious communities across Connecticut have been leaders on this issue, reducing their own carbon footprints by weatherizing their houses of worship and installing solar and heat pumps. We call on the Legislature to pass these important bills to address climate change and protect public health, wildlife, and the environment.”

“With just weeks left in the legislative session, people from every corner of Connecticut are calling on our legislature to pass bills that will result in meaningful action to reduce climate pollution and ramp up the transition to clean energy,” said Samantha Dynowski, State Director of Sierra Club Connecticut. “There is no time for greenwashing or delay. Our communities want and need real climate action now.”

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