Carbon emissions down in Connecticut; More work to be done

Jun 8th, 2014 | By | Category: Climate Change, Top Story

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said that Connecticut is making significant progress in reducing statewide emissions of harmful greenhouse gases (GHGs) to meet requirements set in state law, citing a report issued by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) that details the state’s progress toward meeting the statutory mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% below 2001 levels by 2050.

2014-06-06-climate_change_reportThe report, required under Connecticut’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act (Public Act 08-98), demonstrates that Connecticut is clearly on a trajectory to meet the 2020 mandate much sooner than that date and is putting programs in place to meet the 2050 mandate.
“Make no mistake about it, Connecticut is doing its part to slow global warming.  In fact, we are a national leader in efforts to reduce the amount of carbon emissions being put into the atmosphere.  Connecticut rolled our emissions back to 1990 levels two years sooner than anticipated,” Governor Malloy said, referring to a goal that was adopted by several northeastern states and eastern Canadian provinces and was to be achieved by 2010.  “The recent National Climate Assessment — documenting heat waves, droughts, deluges, and disease as climate impacts that are already occurring — underscores just how crucial this effort is.”
Data in the report demonstrates that total emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate pollutants from power plants, automobile tailpipes, household boilers, waste-to-energy facilities and other sources peaked in 2004 and then declined by a total of 17 percent through 2010, the most recent year for which full data are available.  As of 2010, Connecticut achieved more than half the reductions required by 2020 under the Global Warming Solutions Act, having reduced its emissions to 5.4% below 1990 levels.
The report shows that the biggest reduction was achieved in the electric power sector, where emissions fell 31 percent since 1990 and 22 percent since 2005.  The reductions in the power sector put Connecticut on track towards compliance with the carbon pollution standards for existing power plants released yesterday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Other substantial emissions reductions documented in the report include:
  • Residential sector, where emissions fell 5 percent since 1990 and 24 percent since 2004.
  • Transportation sector, where emissions are dominated by tailpipe emissions from personal vehicles, Connecticut has seen an impressive 17% decrease in emissions from 2004.  Additional work is needed, however, to meet the state’s 2020 and 2050 emission reduction mandates.
Connecticut is working diligently to reduce transportation emissions by enacting stringent tailpipe emissions limits for cars and trucks sold in the state, building “range confidence” in order to facilitate adoption of electric and fuel cell vehicles that don’t have any tailpipe emissions, increasing mass transit opportunities, and supporting transit oriented urban/suburban planning.
“Statewide emissions of climate pollutants are clearly responding to the aggressive policies and programs Connecticut has put in place,” DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee said.  “Our progress is the direct result of an array of initiatives including  capping carbon emissions from the power sector through our participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI); expanding popular and cost-effective energy savings programs to help residents and businesses reduce their energy bills;  generating more electricity from cleaner, cheaper natural gas rather than coal or oil; and increasing by ten-fold the amount of electricity we generate in-state from renewable sources.”
“All of these actions were recommended in the state’s Climate Change Action Plan, adopted in 2005, and were key features of Governor Malloy’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy, adopted in 2013,” Klee added.
“Connecticut’s early success in fighting climate change demonstrates our commitment to protecting the environment, preserving a viable future for our children, and doing so in a manner that improves air quality, bolsters the economy, creates jobs, and saves money for families and businesses,” Klee said.  “Based on the success we have achieved, it is clear that there is no conflict between the environment and the economy when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.”
Complementing its efforts to mitigate global warming by reducing emissions of GHGs, Connecticut has also launched major efforts to address the issue of climate adaptation – to deal with changes in climate that will result from the level of emissions already in the atmosphere.  These include:
  • Established a ground-breaking microgrid program designed to help keep critical infrastructure, like hospitals, police stations, pharmacies and gas stations; operating when the there’s an electrical outage.
  • Launched the Connecticut Institute for Community Resilience and Climate Adaptation, a partnership between the University of Connecticut, DEEP, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to develop strategies to enhance the resilience of coastal and riverine communities while protecting natural ecosystems from climate change.
  • Approved legislation requiring more planning and preparation by the electric utility companies – and holds them more accountable for their performance during and after storms.
  • Created a Connecticut Shoreline Resiliency Fund, a low-interest loan program to help residents elevate their homes and businesses and flood-proof their facilities if they are subject to coastal flooding.
“Connecticut is tackling climate change holistically: working to bring climate change under control and to prepare for and minimize its impacts,” Klee said.  “These efforts will assure that Connecticut remains a great place to live, work, and play.”
Data recently released from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that Connecticut was one of the top 3 lowest energy-related C02 emitting states in the U.S. per unit of economic output.
The “Taking Action on Climate Change: 2014 Progress Report” is available online

For more on this story, visit: Governor Malloy: Gov. Malloy: Connecticut Making Significant Progress in Addressing Global Warming.

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