Governor's climate change report highlights CT's leadership potential

Connecticut Fund for the Environment and its bi-state program Save the Sound welcome today’s release of the exploratory report from the Governor’s Council on Climate Change. CFE/Save the Sound President Don Strait serves on the Council alongside state agency heads, business representatives, and other nonprofit representatives.

The report lays out the Council’s guiding principles, and includes recommendations from the Leadership, Accountability, and Engagement working group. It also includes information about the Analysis, Data, and Metrics working group, whose work is still ongoing, and lays out next steps for that working group in 2016.

“Climate change is one of the biggest threats to our world’s survival and I am grateful that Connecticut will be doing its part,” said Don Strait, executive director of CFE/Save the Sound and member of the Governor’s Council. “While this exploratory report is a solid first step forward, it is the work to come over the next six months that will determine if Connecticut will fulfill its destiny to be a national leader. I look forward to working with the governor, Council members, and state residents to develop the strong policies and accountability measures that will ensure we reach our 2050 emissions targets.”

CFE/Save the Sound looks forward to working with the Council this year to fulfill these responsibilities. Specifically, CFE/Save the Sound would like to see the Council take the following actions:

  • At a minimum, establish interim targets for 2030 and 2040, with regular check-ins every five years. Having multiple interim targets is critical to ensure (1) that the state is on track to meet the 2050 target, and (2) that the targets remain politically relevant.

  • Establish a robust stakeholder process that engages a diverse range of groups and individuals from around the state, with a specific focus on engaging underrepresented minority and low-income communities whose voices may otherwise go unheard.

  • Develop specific recommendations and strategies to reduce emissions and start implementing those strategies immediately.

  • Require the state government to lead by example in tracking and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, state agencies should be required to report their greenhouse gas emissions annually and explain why the emissions have increased or decreased since the previous report. State agencies should also be required to consider the climate impacts of their planning and decisions and select options that minimize the production of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Governor’s Council on Climate Change was created by Governor Dannel P. Malloy on Earth Day 2015 to examine the effectiveness of existing policies and regulations designed to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and to identify new strategies to meet the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2050, as required by the Global Warming Solutions Act (Public Act 08-98). The Council will develop interim statewide greenhouse gas reduction targets for years between 2020 and 2050 and identify a variety of statewide strategies to reach our goals. The Council is composed of fifteen members from state agencies, quasi-state agencies, business, and nonprofits. The Council is planning to develop its specific recommendations and strategies this summer and fall, and will release a report with those recommendations by the end of the year.

The first round of stakeholder engagement events will begin in May.

“Meaningful public engagement and support will be critical to ensure that Connecticut follows through on its climate goals,” said Leah Schmalz, program director at CFE/Save the Sound. “The state’s climate planning process will be much stronger if it reflects input from a diverse array of citizens, businesses, and organizations.”