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The Paris agreement and Connecticut

There was nationwide backlash to President Donald J. Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement at the beginning of June. Connecticut promptly joined 12 states and Puerto Rico to vow to continue to uphold the agreement’s principles. This bipartisan coalition of states, called the United States Climate Alliance (USCA), aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 and meet the targets set by the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration initiative.

In Connecticut, environmentally conscious programs such as these are essential as the climate of our state continues to change. The water level of the Long Island Sound has gone up almost 3 inches since 2000, an indication of global warming as when water warms, it also expands.  Intense rainfall and flooding are also occurring more frequently in the state, causing damage to the state’s agriculture and endangering its citizens. There is no doubt that climate change has a growing impact not only in Connecticut, but throughout the country.

But Connecticut is nowhere near where it needs to be in preserving its natural resources.  Connecticut is one of six states that has banned electric vehicle companies from selling cars directly to customers, forcing consumers to buy through expensive middlemen. 

Connecticut’s Energy Policy and Green Energy Initiatives don’t benefit all residents equally. While a large portion of households in the state cannot install solar panels due to shade trees and other issues, “community shared renewables” that would let households and small businesses pool their resources to build and operate a renewable energy facility, co-op style, are only approved on a pilot basis. In general, much of the state’s energy policy leaves certain residents behind in terms of opportunities for renewable options. The Clean Energy incentives are flawed and require improvements in efficiency and equality.

Addressing climate change is a challenge. One of the largest hurdles is intergenerational relationships. Politicians frequently act relative to the short time horizons of their elected terms, creating a bias in favor of the interests of the current generation of voters. This results in the negative effects of our actions falling on future generations.

As shown by the actions of the USCA, combating climate change is a non-partisan issue. But in our own state we need to address the many issues affecting Connecticut’s coastal communities, explore renewable options accessible to all residents, and find ways to reduce the state’s carbon footprint further so that future generations do not face the consequences of manmade climate change. It is time that we defend this planet and stop compounding environmental issues for future generations.

 

Cady Stanton is an intern at the Office of the Community Lawyer. She is a sophomore at Georgetown University.