In the midst of international focus on climate policy in Paris, the Governor’s Council on Climate Change released its Exploratory Report, catalyzing conversation about local climate action.
The March 2016 report reviews the work done by the council, also known as GC3, since its inception in April 2015. Additionally, it lays the blueprints for climate action policy in 2016 and establishes the committee’s environmental aspirations for 2050. The report garnered local attention as Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee LAW ’04 FES ’05 participated in a Monday panel, “Local Climate Change Planning: A Discussion of Policy Responses by Connecticut, New Haven and Yale,” which aimed to disaggregate the levels of local climate-change responses and give perspective on the interaction of state, city and community groups.
“The government cannot subsidize its way out of this situation. We need the private sector,” Klee said. “We need businesses, universities, faith-based organizations, and we need them talking about how they can interact.”
The report focused on taking socially, economically and technologically appropriate action in response to the ambitious 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act. This act posed two objectives: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2020, using the 1990 level of 44.2 million metric tons as a baseline, and to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 2001 levels by 2050. As of 2012, the 2020 goal has been reached, but the more ambitious 2050 goal remains intimidating, requiring a decrease from 39 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions to under 9 million in only 38 years, DEEP Director of Communications Dennis Schain said.
The committee, which is comprised of representatives of major state agencies, Connecticut businesses and nongovernmental organizations, is split into two subgroups, Schain said. One focuses on leadership, accountability and engagement and the other on analysis, data and metrics. The two groups are intended to supply different perspectives on policy recommendations, merging the implementation of technological advancements and data analysis with community engagement initiatives, Klee said.
“The solution is a combination of institutionalized connections as well as personal connections, which is why it is important to bring people together at the end of the day,” Yumehiko Hoshijima ’15 FES ’19 LAW ’19 said. “We are dealing with problems without precedent. There are not models as to how to go about solving this.”
The panel — which included Klee, New Haven City Engineer Giovanni Zinn ’05 and Assistant Director of the Yale Office of Sustainability Melissa Goodall — focused on the importance of combining provincial, municipal and community-based efforts to reach the goals enumerated by the GC3.
Zinn, who represented the city of New Haven, lauded the climate-change efforts introduced by Mayor Toni Harp. He detailed Harp’s recent plans to improve bike infrastructure through the introduction of cycle tracks, the implementation of energy-efficient street lights and creation of new solar energy contracts.
“Mayor Harp brought vision of environmental sustainability to the city,” Zinn said. “We were challenged by residents to build a 21st-century city.”
The Yale Office of Sustainability was represented at the panel by Goodall, who specified that Yale’s role in addressing climate change lies in educating students about sustainability.
Klee noted that Connecticut’s unprecedented goal of connecting city, state and community climate-change responses could have national influence.
“We’re a small state. We won’t move the needle that much, but we can provide a model for other places,” Klee said.
The suggestions made by the GC3 over the next few months will be compiled into a set of interim goals to be published in late 2016.