PRESS RELEASE: Connecticut fails to meet climate pollution mandate as emissions trend upward

CT Coalition for Climate Action calls for urgent legislative action

Hartford, CT—This morning the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection released its annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory. The report, which analyzes data from 2022, shows that the state has lost the ground it gained on emissions reductions during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. All major sectors now show a sharply increasing trend in the wrong direction—upward.

Members of the CT Coalition for Climate Action responded swiftly, demanding legislators approve bills to make emissions reductions. The 2024 Connecticut legislative session ends in 13 days and thus far no significant climate bill has passed either chamber. [UPDATE: A few hours after this press release was issued, the House passed a version of HB 5232 by a 98-49 vote.]

Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney, Save the Sound, said “This latest inventory underscores the urgent need for increased efforts to reduce emissions to meet our legal commitments to Connecticut residents and our moral commitments to future generations. Greenhouse gas emissions actually increasing in recent years shows how transitory progress can be without a strong strategy in place. We urgently need policies that will create the greenhouse gas reductions the state has committed to, and policies to make sure those reductions stick.”

“To see Connecticut’s GHG emissions continuing to rise is alarming and speaks to the urgency of passing strong climate legislation now. With Connecticut’s failure to lower its own emissions we are reminded of the role and responsibility that our state specifically has to address climate,” said Nathan Frohling, Director of External Affairs for The Nature Conservancy in CT.

“After a decade of reductions, Connecticut’s emissions of the pollution fueling climate change are on the rise again,” said Environment Connecticut State Director Chris Phelps. “Connecticut’s failure to meet its goals for reducing pollution and the recent trend of rising emissions should be a wakeup call to the governor and legislators that they need to act now to reduce pollution from sources like the cars and trucks on our roads.”

Achieving the reductions required by the Global Warming Solutions Act will require deeper, more rapid emissions reductions from the transportation and building sectors in particular, and policies to ensure those reductions are sustained. The report also shows that transportation is again the biggest contributor to Connecticut’s emissions, yet the state continually fails to move the needle on transportation policy. Just this year, Connecticut moved backward on clean car and clean truck standards when the legislature failed to adopt key updates despite promises from the governor and legislative leadership.

Additionally, our climate targets cannot be achieved without continued and increased investment in clean renewable energy that frees us from reliance on fossil fuels. Legislation such as HB 5004, the CT Climate Protection Act, and solar-focused bill HB 5232 are critical steps toward getting back on track. The latter is expected to get a vote in the House Thursday.

“This Greenhouse Gas Inventory is the latest alarm bell on climate for Connecticut,” said Samantha Dynowski, Chapter Director of Sierra Club Connecticut. “Rising emissions are harmful to our climate, air, and public health and must be addressed with meaningful action. To start, House Bill 5004 will help to lower emissions and protect communities by fostering a clean energy transition in our homes and buildings. HB 5004 is one of many steps toward achieving the sustainable future Connecticut needs.”

Connecticut is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, and Connecticut voters are tired of inaction. Not acting on climate is costing residents money through volatile heating oil and gas prices. In addition to carbon dioxide, fossil fuel combustion generates nitrogen oxides, particulates, and other pollutants that hurt Connecticut residents’ health, so moving away from them will have tremendous benefits for public health as well as our climate. We can’t afford to fall any further behind.

“As a health professional and steering committee member of Connecticut Health Professionals for Climate Action, I am concerned about the respiratory harms that accompany increasing emissions in Connecticut. This report highlights the urgent need to drastically reduce emissions from the transportation and building sectors,” said Dr. Kirsten Ek of CHPCA.

“Being good stewards of the planet is a fundamental call in every faith tradition,” said Teresa Eickel, executive director of Interreligious Eco-Justice Network. “Climate change hurts the poorest and most vulnerable people first and worst; we must take strong action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

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, 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, Sierra Club CT, and the Nature Conservancy in CT. More information at www.climateactionct.org

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