Press Release: Advocates Critical of Call for Special Session During High Heat Days

(Hartford, CT) – Despite House Bill 5004 passing the House with overwhelming support and more than 70 co-sponsors during the regular session, and 58% of Connecticut residents believing the Governor should act on climate, the call for special session failed to include climate change legislation.

“After several weeks of exchanging apparently hollow expressions of interest in addressing climate change in a special session, the Governor and legislative leaders have revealed their true priorities,” said Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney with Save the Sound. “The Governor said legislative leaders had to support addressing climate in the special session. They said they did. Legislative leaders said the Governor had to be willing to address climate in a special session. He said he was. Yet, at the end of the day the session will focus on tweaking property tax assessments for motor vehicles, expanding commercial banking operations, and other minor matters that could be addressed in the next regular session. Once again, we are left with rhetoric rather than action. While this outcome is not entirely surprising given the recurring failure of our state leadership to adopt meaningful climate change policies, it is disappointing.”

This action came while Connecticut was in the throes of a record-breaking heat wave; residents throughout the state were urged to stay in air-conditioned spaces, avoid the sun, and increase water intake. Heat is the number one weather related killer and impacts some of our most vulnerable residents—those with asthma, COPD, and other health issues and those living in our inner cities or low-wealth communities.

“Scorching temperatures like these are why we need our decision-makers to work together and strengthen our state’s climate laws,” said Shannon Laun, Vice President of CLF Connecticut. “The recent heatwave should be a stark reminder to state leaders who continue to delay action: As our communities swelter under extreme heat, climate change isn’t waiting. So why should we?”

A scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts, Jennifer Francis, recently pointed out, “Until greenhouse gas concentrations level off, we will keep breaking temperature records, along with increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events.” Unfortunately, as climate change legislation languishes, the residents of Connecticut will continue to face these high-heat days.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection just recently issued its periodic inventory of greenhouse emissions in Connecticut, an important driver of our recent weather patterns, and rather than the needed steep decline, the report’s preliminary data shows that greenhouse gas emissions actually increased in 2022 for a second consecutive year.

The Legislature failed to pass meaningful climate change legislation for the second year in a row during the regular session, and it’s the residents of Connecticut that continue to bear the brunt of their inaction.

Lori Brown, executive director at CT League of Conservation Voters, added, “We are taken aback by the total failure of our state’s top elected leaders to take action on climate.  The Republicans are openly hostile to climate legislation, and the Democrats say they support climate action, but didn’t do anything, even when they had a second chance to pass legislation in the June Special Session. Meanwhile, the impacts of climate change rage on. This time last year, our skies were orange from out-of-control wildfires in Canada and the flooding disaster of last summer destroyed Connecticut farms, crops, and livelihoods. Refusing to act on climate is to ignore the damage being done to our economy, our health, and our environment.” 

Nathan Frohling, Director of External Affairs for The Nature Conservancy in CT, went on to say, “We’re not sure why the Governor and Senate leadership have been so passive about passing climate legislation in the 2024 session and now in the special session. The evidence of urgency is at our doorstep—from massive smoke in our air last year from Canada, record heat in early summer now, the threat of life altering hurricanes and more. Political convenience is not a sufficient answer.”

Terri Eickel with the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network expressed frustration, adding “Religious communities are at the forefront of responding to climate change. People of faith are the largest group of individual givers in times of extreme weather disasters. Houses of worship act as cooling and warming centers. Faith communities of all different faith traditions support people when they are suffering from illness, hunger, or loss of housing. Climate change hits the most vulnerable people first and worst; failure to act on climate change means that these communities will continue to suffer the impacts of climate change.  Our different faith traditions compel us to care for each other and the planet, and we will continue to do so, despite the lack of action from the legislature.”

Marc Scully, President of People’s Action for Clean Energy, concluded, saying, “We are profoundly disappointed at the failure of the General Assembly to pass serious climate legislation. This inaction keeps Connecticut on a path of ever-increasing energy costs and fails to address the most pressing issue of our time.  The residents, businesses, towns and cities across the state stand ready to do their part to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and lower their costs. Sadly, their leaders at the state level are not doing their part.”

The Governor activated the state’s extreme hot weather protocol through Sunday and towns across the state have opened cooling centers to residents.

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

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