PRESS RELEASE: CT Confirms Climate Laggard Legacy in 2024 Session

Connecticut failed its residents on climate change legislation

Hartford, CT—In the last few hours of Connecticut’s legislative session, lawmakers failed to keep their promise of passing climate legislation, setting the state even further behind on its commitments and ignoring the majority of Connecticut voters who, according to data compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, want climate action.

Despite massive public support, backing by businesses, advocacy by health care professionals statewide, 71 co-sponsors, and passage by the House of Representatives House Bill 5004, the Connecticut Climate Protection Act, never appeared for a vote on the Senate floor. The news left advocates dismayed that senators failed to act on climate change and failed to provide communities with the tools they need to safeguard their neighborhoods in the face of worsening storms and rising tides—snubbing the widespread constituent support for climate action this year.

Just two weeks ago, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection released its annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory, which showed an alarming increase in our emissions. Failure to pass significant climate legislation this session puts the state further down the wrong road with no meaningful policies on the horizon to reverse that trend. Time is running out to act on climate change, and this year the senate chose to overlook that fact.

Here’s what members of the CT Coalition for Climate Action had to say:

“Global warming and climate change harm our economy, devastate communities, and threaten our children’s future,” said Chris Phelps, Environment Connecticut State Director. “The legislature’s inability to pass even a modest proposal to cut the pollution that fuels climate change is a failure that will harm our state’s economic competitiveness, put communities at risk from disasters and sacrifice our children’s future.”

“Connecticut’s legislature had a chance to show its commitment to doing what’s right for our families and businesses—and today, it failed,” said Shannon Laun, Vice President of CLF Connecticut. “A law that strengthens climate action in the name of protecting us and our loved ones should be common sense. The choice between bolder commitments and worsening storms, bad air quality, and other climate hazards threatening our health should be obvious. Our decision-makers in the Senate threw away this opportunity to stand up for their constituents.”

“The failure to pass HB 5004 is a severe blow to Connecticut’s environmental future,” said Lori Brown, Executive Director of the CT League of Conservation Voters. “The Senate’s inaction on this broadly supported bill demonstrates a disregard for environmental protection and raises serious questions about legislative accountability. This inaction will have lasting consequences, and we need to hold lawmakers accountable.”

“Appallingly, this session has turned out to be yet another failure for climate legislation and for Connecticut’s people, businesses, and future,” said Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney with Save the Sound. “Only weeks after Connecticut released its latest greenhouse gas inventory report demonstrating that emissions are actually going up in some sectors, the state Senate failed to take up the session’s major climate bill. Where once we were a leader, we are now a laggard, watching impotently as our neighboring states adopt milestone policies commensurate to the threat that climate change poses. Connecticut cannot continue to allow itself to be held hostage to a vocal minority of climate change deniers that reject the science, reject the evidence of our own eyes, and reject the clear desire of Connecticut’s residents for meaningful action on climate. We can and must do better.”

“The Connecticut Senate failed today to pass this substantive and balanced legislation. This failure of leadership jeopardizes Connecticut’s ability to meet its self-imposed climate targets, and sets the state on a path to higher and more volatile energy costs,” said Mark Scully, President of People’s Action for Clean Energy.

“Shockingly, our state failed to address the looming health crisis of climate change today. Squarely along party lines, this bill did not pass and people will continue to face the worsening health impacts of climate change. In the context of record setting temperatures, deteriorating air quality, and the spread of infectious diseases, our state needs to do more to safeguard its citizens and not allow for a health crisis to go unaddressed due to over-politicization and special interest industry,” said Sanjiv Godse, MD, Chair of Connecticut Health Professionals for Climate Action.

“This bill had no good reason to fail. It does a lot of good and won the support of business along with climate advocates. It is a meaningful, no-nonsense bill 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 needed it now for our health, economy, labor force, and quality of life,” said Nathan Frohling, Director of External Affairs for The Nature Conservancy in CT.

“Climate change affects everyone, but some communities are more affected,” said Dr. Mark Mitchell, co-chair of the Connecticut Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Council. “This includes communities of color and low-wealth communities that contribute the least, but suffer the most from climate change. Their health and lives are more at risk from the flooding, heatwaves, and extreme weather, as well as from living near fossil fuel infrastructure. They depend on our elected officials for protection. Sadly, they were let down again this year by the failure of our leaders to act on climate. Without action, the problem will only get worse.”

“The Connecticut legislature has again failed to take action on the most pressing environmental issue facing our state—climate change,” said Sierra Club Connecticut Chapter Director Samantha Dynowski. “We are seriously disheartened that House Bill 5004 was not among the priority bills voted on by both chambers of the legislature. Instead, climate action has been further delayed and Connecticut residents, businesses, and communities have been denied the progress we need to face the crisis head on.”

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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