Wilton editorial: Taking steps on climate change
The ferocity and size of Hurricane Dorian, and devastation to the Bahamas, should leave no doubt in people’s minds that storms are getting more severe. They also are more frequent.
Add monster storms to uncontrolled wildfires, mudslides and droughts to see the picture that climate change already is having drastic effects around the world. According to Bloomberg news reports, people are already fleeing the Florida Keys as the state buys coastal homes just to bulldoze them.
Last October, the United Nation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in a grim report that we had about 12 years to limit global warming and avoid catastrophic changes. Nearly a year has gone by — and this country has done little to stop what will be widespread disaster.
Unfortunately, Washington has left it up to local officials to decide the best course of action in their cities and states. That has led to a haphazard set of actions.
Connecticut, at least, is heeding the incontrovertible evidence and taking action. Earlier this month, Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order to strengthen the state’s response to climate change, including rising sea levels and powerful storms.
“The effects of climate change are impacting our air, water, health, natural resources, economy and the quality of life of every current and future citizen of Connecticut,” he said. Yes, the situation is that serious.
“We have a responsibility to act now,” Lamont said. Now is the key word. Not waiting another year, or month, or day — or worst — deny climate change is happening.
The governor’s executive order calls for the goal of a 100-percent zero-carbon electric grid by 2040. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is charged with recommending strategies. Though 21 years from now might seem too long to wait, the goal to achieve clean energy actually moved up a decade.
This will be a great challenge. Though the last coal-fired plant in the state, in Bridgeport, is scheduled to be decommissioned in a few years, new natural gas plants continue to come on line. But the coming development to generate energy from off-shore wind is estimated to supply about one-third of the state’s energy production. Last month, the DEEP sent a Request for Proposals on the project.
The executive order also expands the responsibilities of the governor’s Council on Climate Change. It gives the council oversight to monitor progress on its report “Building a Low Carbon Future,” which it presented to state leaders last December. Finally, a report won’t just sit on a shelf.
Working with every state agency, the council will develop a “climate adaptation strategy” to assess and prepare Connecticut for the effects of climate change on infrastructure, agriculture, natural resources, public health and other areas.
Here, Wilton has also taken positive steps by embracing solar energy for its schools, expanding the natural gas lines to take schools off oil, and investing in a net metering project.
While these are good steps, they cannot happen in a vacuum. Connecticut is behind on shared solar to feed the electric grid and allow homeowners to subscribe. Regulations, which are criticized as too restrictive, have a Jan. 1 deadline for approval by the Public Utilities Regulatory Agency.
The state also must fight relaxed federal regulations that exacerbate air pollution arriving from other states.
Most of all, the Trump Administration must stop denying the reality of climate change and start taking responsibility. Time is running out.