Connecticut State Sen. Toni Harp met with 13 constituents Monday night, including environmental leaders and three Yale students to discuss legislation intended to prevent global warming.
Sponsored by the Connecticut Climate Coalition (CCC), the meeting took place at Gateway Community College and marked the second time environmental leaders have met with a state senator in New Haven to address pending environmental legislation, said Yale Climate Campaign member Jack Dafoe ’04.
“We’re just presenting on the three pillars of the Connecticut Climate Coalition and the Yale Climate Campaign: clean electricity, clean transportation and government lead by example,” Dafoe said.
Created in 2002 to endorse Gov. John Rowland’s commitment to clean energy and transportation, the CCC represents over half a million Connecticut residents, said Roger Smith, who works for Connecticut Clean Water Action in conjunction with the CCC.
“We’re working to support legislation that will mandate reductions in greenhouse emissions,” Smith said.
Yale Climate Campaign members Noah Chesnin ’04 and Raisa Rexer ’04 co-led a presentation for Sen. Harp on the three pillars to help reduce global warming threats.
“We need to shift, not only away from grandfather power plants, but also promote renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar,” Chesnin said.
Rexer said she and other members of the Yale Climate Campaign worked toward New Haven’s recent commitment to purchase 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2010 and that she hoped the state would take similar initiatives, such as buying and using vehicles with the lowest carbon dioxide emissions.
“What we would like to see is the state taking that kind of leadership role,” Rexer said.
With over 70 organizations in support of anti-global warming legislation, Smith said Connecticut remains a leading state in the fight to reduce fossil fuel emissions while it also maintains a prosperous economy.
“There’s more citizens, more groups working on global warming here than in any other state,” he said, “Students plus citizens is incredible.”
Smith said the push for anti-global warming legislation in Connecticut began to pick up momentum after the Bush administration displayed a lack of initiative toward the environment by refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol in 2001. In that same year, the New England Governors Conference met to create the Climate Action Plan, a program currently in effect that outlines greenhouse gas reduction goals for New England, Smith said.
“Because of the complete failure of the federal government to lead on global warming, it’s up to the states to take action, lead America,” he said.
Forty-five percent of global warming in Connecticut comes from transportation, a number that can be decreased by reducing public driving time through the use of carpools, buses or other types of public transportation, Chesnin said.
CCC member Kathy Fay said subtle climatic transformations and their impact on local economies account for part of the reason global warming awareness has grown in the last 10 years.
“As we get older, we really do notice there are subtle changes,” Fay said. “Even if we were completely wrong about global warming, [anti-global warming legislation] is not going to hurt.”
Harp said she supported the proposals presented and thanked those in attendance for their information and initiative on reducing global warming.
“Thank you for your hard work on behalf of everybody that lives on this planet.” Harp said, “I think it’s going to be a battle that we’re going to have to fight on many fronts, and it’s not just the local legislators that I’m worried about.”
Gateway Community College student Aaron Tagliamonte, who organized the meeting, said he hopes to begin an environmental activism program at Gateway, although no serious attempt to create such a program has been made since 1994.