Connecticut signs onto climate agreement, committing to carbon emission reduction

Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that as the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP 21, meets in Paris this week, he has committed the State of Connecticut to sign onto the Under 2 MOU agreement — a global compact among cities, states and provinces worldwide to limit the increase in global average temperature to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
“Connecticut has set an aggressive goal for reducing carbon emissions to combat climate change – and is determined to do so in a manner that improves our environment and air quality while increasing our energy security, building our economy, and creating jobs,” said Governor Malloy. “We are making strong progress on all fronts and our state has emerged as a national leader on climate action. Signing the Under 2 MOU aligns us with other jurisdictions who share our deep commitment to protecting the future of our planet and safeguarding the well-being of every one who lives here.”
Signatories to the Under 2 MOU agree to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels or limit to two metric tons CO2-equivalent per capita, by 2050. Connecticut’s own statutory climate reduction target requires emissions reductions of at least 80 percent economy-wide by 2050 from 2001 levels.
“We have a profound responsibility to confront climate change, and the Under 2 MOU is a real catalyst,” said California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., who has been an international leader in advocating for the global climate change pact. “Connecticut joins a growing list of states and regions, who are prodding world leaders to take decisive action.”
Connecticut expects to achieve deep, economy-wide emissions reductions by 2050 through a comprehensive suite of policies and programs, consistent with the order of emission reductions required by the MOU. These are levels determined necessary to avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, such as significant sea level rise that would inundate nations and coastlines around the world, create prolonged pervasive and extreme weather, cause mega droughts, and lead to food scarcity.
Under the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, the State of Connecticut is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent from 2001 levels by 2050. The adopted legislation also contained an interim goal of a 10 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2020, which Connecticut achieved in 2012 – eight years ahead of schedule. During that same time period, Connecticut’s population grew nine percent and the economy grew 41 percent.
“Our state is demonstrating that we can address climate change while growing our economy and creating jobs,” Governor Malloy said. “Climate change is happening – there is no mistake about it. It is time to take action to address this challenge in a responsible and thoughtful manner, and by working with others who have signed the Under 2 MOU, Connecticut will continue to take that exact approach.”
The State of Connecticut is on a path toward greater reductions in carbon emissions as a result of a variety of programs and policy commitments:
Climate leadership through RGGI: Connecticut is a founding member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first market-based, regulatory, cap-and-trade programs to reduce emissions from large fossil fuel burning power plants in the Northeast. Emissions from the power sector in Connecticut have declined by 34 percent from 1990 to 2012.
A clear focus on energy efficiency: Connecticut has doubled its investment in cost-effective energy-saving initiatives. The lifetime energy savings achieved through efficiency programs in 2014 resulted in savings of fuel for heat and power that avoided emissions of 3.2 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent – which is the same as removing more than 466,000 cars from the road.
Deployment of renewables: With the support of innovative financing programs offered by the first-in-the-nation Connecticut Green Bank, Connecticut has seen a ten-fold increase in in-state renewables over the past three years. In addition, Connecticut has committed to purchasing power – for the first time – from regional grid-scale wind and solar projects, achieving significant savings for Connecticut ratepayers and staying on track to meet our goal of sourcing 20% of the state’s electricity needs from Class I renewables by 2020.
Supporting alternatives in transportation: As the transportation sector accounts for about 40 percent of the state’s carbon emissions, Connecticut has been focused on highway improvements to speed the flow of traffic and reduce congestion, public transit projects that can lure people out of cars, and encouraging the sales and use of electric vehicles (EV). The state is funding a program of consumer rebates to make the cost of alternative vehicles more competitive and the build out of an EV charging station infrastructure to become the first “range confident” state in the nation.
Connecticut joins New Hampshire, California, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington as American states to sign the agreement. The Under 2 MOU has now been signed or endorsed by 65 jurisdictions representing 20 countries and five continents, collectively representing 588 million people and more than $17.96 trillion in GDP (23% of the world’s total GDP). If the signatories represented a single country, it would be the world’s largest economy, surpassing the United States.
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