HARTFORD — The Malloy administration picked Wednesday, Earth Day, to reboot a coordinated campaign against climate change that had been dormant since the state completed a report on the subject four years ago.
While the state is on pace to reach its next emissions target, Connecticut is without a roadmap to accomplish the ambitious, and statutorily mandated, goal of reducing greenhouse gases to 80 percent of 2001 levels by 2050.
"It is going to be a big task." Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Wednesday, steps from the swelling Connecticut River, after signing an executive order "recommitting" the state to the global challenge of climate change by seating a Governor's Council on Climate Change.
The council will set interim goals and recommend carbon-cutting policies. Its goal is for Connecticut to average 2 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in each of the next 35 years.
Robert Klee, commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, who will chair the council, said there is a "moral imperative" to meet the goals Connecticut enacted with the 2008 adoption of the Global Warming Solutions Act.
Most of Connecticut's greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector, power plants and residential heating. And while power plants and residents have cut their emissions from 1990 levels, emissions from the transportation sector are higher than they were 25 years ago.
Following a 1990 assessment from the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Connecticut was the first in the United States to pass legislation requiring actions to control carbon emissions. A decade later, the state issued its first Climate Change Action Plan, whose goal it was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to levels that eliminate any threat to the climate.
In 2008, the Global Warming Solutions Act committed the state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010; to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020; and finally to 80 percent of 2001 levels by the middle of the century.
Although Connecticut's 2005 Climate Change Action plan outlined steps for Connecticut to reach its first two goals, but was silent on the final one, which will be the goal of this rebooted climate change council.
It is unclear what sort of policy changes the council will recommend in its report to the governor's office, due by the end of 2015, but there is agreement that the proposals need gravitas.
One independent report said the state needs "very different policies" to meet the goal, while the state itself has characterized what's required as "significant additional measures and breakthrough technologies."
Malloy, who is confident the 2050 goal can be met, nevertheless said the state has some "ground to make up."
His 15-member council will include state agency officials from energy and environment, economic and community development, transportation, housing, administrative services, insurance, public utilities authority, and policy and management. Also included: the chief executive of the Connecticut Greek Bank, four representatives from energy and environment nonprofits, and two representatives from business and industry.