Conn. works to implement Climate Change Action Plan

The state announced a new plan Tuesday that offers dozens of recommendations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan implements measures to attain the emissions reduction targets set forth by the 2001 Climate Change Action Plan, a verbal agreement among Northeastern states to reduce state emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and, over the long-term, achieve a 75 percent reduction. Due to the work of environmental advocacy groups, Connecticut was one of only two states in the original non-binding agreement to sign the Climate Change Action Plan into law in 2004, compelling the state to submit plans for emissions reduction by Feb. 15.

“Those targets had already been set by the [2001 Climate Change Action Plan], which we think is significant,” Environment Northeast policy analyst Heather Kaplan said. “This is about what the states have to do to move forward. This is definitely historic for Connecticut — it’s one of a handful of states that has passed a comprehensive climate plan like this in the country.”

Tuesday’s plan stems from recommendations from a report put forth by the Stakeholders’ Group, an advisory board of businesses and consumer rights and environmental advocacy organizations, including the nonprofits Environment Northeast and Clean Water Action.

A central feature of the plan in combating global warming is the reduction of greenhouse gases, from naturally occurring ones like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, to those generated in a variety of industrial processes such as from automobile and power plant emissions.

“There’s no silver bullet to global warming,” Clean Water Action member Roger Smith said. “There’s no single one thing you can do except to start moving away from burning fossil fuels. It attributes 40 percent of the problem of global warming to transportation, and 25 percent to power plants, and calls for each sector to do its own part.”

The plan — the first regional agreement in the United States to reduce carbon output — caps the amount of carbon that can be released by power plants. Implementing a market-based system of credit vouchers, the state demands plants emit carbon according to the number of vouchers they have been assigned — those that need to emit more must purchase vouchers from other plants.

Connecticut will already be working to establish greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles by the end of 2005. Under the plan, new motor vehicles beginning with model year 2009 will be required to emit 30 percent fewer greenhouse gases than would have been emitted without this program.

“Although this action plan is primarily intended to reduce Connecticut’s emissions of heat trapping gases, the resulting long-term shift to cleaner and more efficient ways of using energy outlined in the recommended actions will ensure that our state remains a great place to live while offering the potential to save money through smarter choices,” Commissioner Linda Yelmini of the state Department of Administrative Services said in a statement.

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