The New Green: Coping against climate change
Published: Friday, October 26, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2012 00:10
The Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment (2007) discovered that New England has been warming by 0.5°F every decade since 1970, with winter temperatures increasing at an even faster rate of 1.3°F per decade. Potential effects of this steady rise in temperature include: less winter precipitation as snow and more as rain, more days above 90°F, reduced snowpack and increased snow density, earlier breakup of ice on water bodies, earlier spring snow melt and rising sea levels and temperatures. On the surface, these issues may not seem to pose a big threat, but in reality they can present huge challenges to life as we know it today. With more rain and snow melt, flooding will be a greater danger, and rising sea levels have already begun to threaten homes and businesses along the Connecticut shoreline. So how is Connecticut planning to cope with the threat of climate change?
One important climate mitigation effort that Connecticut is a part of is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first market-based regulatory program for reducing GHG emissions. Other states that participate in RGGI include Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. The RGGI allows states to sell emission allowances and use the proceeds to invest in innovative energy solutions such as energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Participation in the RGGI is very important for Connecticut, as the state has made it an official goal to reduce its GHG emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2050.
Connecticut has also created two important funds regarding energy: the CT Energy Efficiency Fund (CEEF) and the CT Clean Energy Fund. Both of these programs are funded by a surcharge on electricity bills. In 2008, it was estimated that each dollar spent on CEEF programs resulted in $4 of electrical savings. Major CEEF programs address the issues of lighting, conditioning, HVAC and improving building codes. The Clean Energy Fund endeavors to switch as much of the state as possible over to renewable energy systems. Already, the Fund has been responsible for installing over 1,150 systems including fuel cells, photo-voltaic cells, biomass, land fill gas, wind and hydro-power systems, culminating in a savings of about 293,600 tons of carbon dioxide over their lifetimes.
These are only a fraction of the initiatives that Connecticut has prepared in order to address the threats of climate change. While the creation of these programs is an excellent step forward, it is not enough for programs to simply exist. It is up to us as citizens to make sure that these programs are prioritized – that means giving lots of money and resources – so that they may fulfill their intended purposes. For more information, visit Connecticut’s official climate change website, www.climatechange.com.