Connecticut Not Meeting Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals
In September, Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced that Connecticut is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals. This news was not a surprise to me. I have been watching the exciting developments in other states and recognizing that Connecticut is falling behind in climate action.
At this moment, the negative actions that Connecticut is taking outweigh the positive ones. The two proposed fossil fuel power plants that DEEP has approved in the last few years – in Killingly and Middletown – will add 3.3 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Just to break even on carbon emissions, the state will need to take almost 600,000 cars off the road. That’s about half the cars that are registered in our state.
From climate scientists to the International Energy Agency, there is agreement that to limit global temperature increase to a safe level, there is no room in the carbon budget for new oil and gas (or coal). Yet, Connecticut policy continues to encourage and subsidize fossil gas in electricity generation and buildings, and has yet to gain control of rising emissions from the transportation sector.
Sierra Club Connecticut is fiercely advocating for actions in our state that will immediately reduce the use of fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gases, and make our local air more breathable. These actions focus on electricity, transportation, and buildings, which are the three sectors most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions in Connecticut. To meet our mandated greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, Sierra Club urges:
Stopping proposed and future new fossil fuel power plants, ending the ratepayer funded gas expansion plan, and ending incentives for fossil fuels.
Require all electricity supplied and generated in the state to be 100% zero carbon by 2040.
Requiring all state vehicle purchases and leases be zero-emission beginning immediately, and requiring all new cars and trucks sold in Connecticut be zero-emission.
Requiring all new buildings and major retrofits meet a net-zero, all-electric standard, and increasing energy efficiency funding and incentives that will transition existing buildings to renewable heat and electricity.
There are many ways Connecticut can dial down fossil fuels and ramp up renewables in conjunction with these actions. In implementing, Connecticut also has the obligation and opportunity to repair environmental injustices and create jobs in communities that have been overburdened by the fossil fuel economy, red-lined, and disinvested in.
Connecticut must move quickly and boldly on these actions to avoid the costly impacts of climate change. Both the administration and the legislature must step up and put more meaningful action behind the climate concerns they say they have.
Samantha Dynowski is State Director of Sierra Club Connecticut.