November 26, 2018
Governor-Elect Ned Lamont
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
All State Legislators
Legislative Office Building
300 Capital Ave
Hartford, CT 06106
Dear Governor-Elect and Legislators:
As a resident of the State of Connecticut and a concerned citizen, I urge you to follow through on your statement regarding climate change: that it is “an urgent threat that must be tackled immediately.” I couldn’t agree more. We have precious few years to address this issue and we have certainly seen the enormous threats that loom: drought, wildfires, flooding, stronger hurricanes, sea level rise, and more. Some key points:
- The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says carbon emissions must fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 – a mere 12 years. The term of your governorship will likely encompass most of this time.
- The report notes: “limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require ‘rapid and far-reaching’ transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.” In other words, an emergency mobilization.
- The earth has already warmed by 1.8° Fahrenheit (1° Celsius).
- The report is based on old data. The nature of science is that the reports go through rigorous evaluation and peer review before they are published. Hence, the data contained in them is already somewhat out of date by publication. Even now there are concerns about accelerating feedback loops, such as methane leaks from the thawing permafrost in the arctic. These tipping points threaten to lock in even more global warming, possibly pushing the earth past our ability to survive on it.
- The Paris Climate Accord, while a good step, did not actually set up the global community to limit warming to 2° Celsius. It was assumed that more aggressive steps would be taken later. However, even with the watered down obligations from the Paris accord, these obligations are not currently being met.
The data is bleak. And as the IPCC report indicates, we have the ability to make substantial changes in business-as-usual that will have real, significant impacts on these trends. One very bright light in this effort is Mark Jacobson, a professor at Stanford University in California. He and his team have spent years modeling ways for each state and country to move to 100% clean, renewable energy. His Solutions Project is highly recommended reading (thesolutionsproject.org). As he noted in a recent talk in Hartford, we must move to 100% electricity-based energy systems powered primarily by solar and wind. That means: all vehicles, all mass transit, all industrial and residential heating, and all industrial and residential cooling must be powered by renewable electricity. A massive undertaking, yes, and we have the technology right now to make this happen. All we need is the political will.
The current political situation provides the best chance we have to lead in implementing policies to transition us away from fossil fuels and to an ecologically sustainable and just society. The Democratic Party has campaigned on addressing climate change and now that they have majorities in CT and all our neighboring states it is time to back the talk with action.
A “Green New Deal” to create clean energy jobs, improve the health of CT residents, and reduce our cost of living would include (but not be limited to):
- Restoring electric rate equality (net metering) harmed by 2018 legislation in CT;
- Retiring polluting power plants like Millstone Nuclear Power Station & Bridgeport Harbor Station (Gas & Coal);
- Enacting a prohibition on gas infrastructure development;
- Restoring rate payer funds designated for energy efficiency and renewable energy;
- Requiring government buildings to be powered by renewable energy such as solar, wind or geothermal;
- Requiring all new construction in CT to incorporate renewable energy;
- Expanding and electrifying mass transit systems to serve the most people and eliminate emissions;
- Expanding the renewable portfolio standard to 100% by 2030 or earlier.
I cannot think of a more meaningful and significant legacy for you to leave to the state of Connecticut than to say you’ve thoroughly addressed this existential threat. It affects every current and future citizen of Connecticut, and truly, the world. Please show us that you’ve been serious about addressing this issue. Addressing it can bring thousands of jobs to the state, retain our younger generation, improve health outcomes, address environmental racism, and reduce energy costs for all citizens. It can be positioned as transformational, as it certainly is. Please move forward on this quickly. Our lives literally depend on it.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: www.ipcc.ch
Mark Jacobson: www.thesolutionsproject.org
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal: www.ocasio2018.com/gnd
Synapse Energy reports: www.synapse-energy.com/sites/default/files/Increasing-the-Connecticut-Renewable-Portfolio-Standard-17-070_0.pdf
Robert Howarth, Cornell University: www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/publications/Howarth_2016_methane_emissions_summary.pdf
At 350 CT , we hope that everyone who cares about the climate crisis will share this letter with their representatives at the state capital. It would be most effective if you can do this in person, at their office or a public event but please spread this to as many people in the state government as possible.