September 4 — Connecticut, like the rest of the world, reckons with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report outlining a grim future for humanity and the environment, unless there is a concerted effort to change of cap.
The report, which warns of forest fires, droughts, sea level rise, heat waves and more frequent severe weather events, describes in detail what climatologists already knew, experts say. and advocates. Anji Seth, professor and acting head of the geology department at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, pointed out a significant deviation from earlier reports.
“Some of the main findings of the report are that there is no longer any doubt that humans are the cause of the warming. They are using that term ‘unequivocally’,” Seth said. “In previous reports this term was reserved for the earth warming up. The previous report said the warming is ‘unequivocal’ and the human cause is likely or very likely. Now there is so much more evidence and a virtual certainty about it that they can use the term “unequivocally” regarding the human cause of warming. “
He added that the scientific community has tried to educate the public about warming and climate change for the past 30 years.
“We have known that humans have been the cause of climate change since 1995, and we have been very clear that CO2 is increasing and that is causing warming,” Seth said. “This new report also tells us that if we stop emitting CO2, temperatures will stop rising. It’s that simple. It really is the fossil carbon that we put into the atmosphere. We know. that if we stop doing it, the temperatures will stop rising. “
Terri Eickel, development director of the Stonington-based Avalonia Land Conservancy, said she found the report “extremely motivating”. Avalonia is “a land trust dedicated to conservation through the acquisition of open spaces,” according to its website.
“Some people I work with at different levels just wanted to lie on the floor for a day or two,” Eickel said. “Nothing in it comes as a big surprise, but every time you see it printed by a large, trusted, peer-reviewed science body, it really is sobering.”
Seth and other researchers worked on the Connecticut Physical Climate Assessment Report, released in 2019, which comes to many of the same conclusions as the IPCC report but focuses on Connecticut. The state envisions increased air temperatures, less snow in winter, more precipitation in some areas, a longer growing season, and sea level rise.
Juliana Barrett, extension educator for the Connecticut Sea Grant program at UConn Avery Point, also said the IPCC report “is nothing that we don’t already know, but it highlights some of the impacts that will be felt. for hundreds, even thousands. years. “
“I think it’s just a call to action, and Southeast Connecticut is a very active community,” Barrett said. “Many areas have been subject to vulnerability assessments, action plans and municipalities are working on what they can do in terms of planning, regulating, clearing floodplains or reducing flooding. construction in the floodplains, as well as taking into account the rise in sea level. account in any new development that may be impacted.
For example, as part of the UConn report, researchers studied New London with the aim of “mitigating the negative impacts of sea level rise while stimulating economic growth along South Water Street.” Examining data from Long Island Sound tide gauges, the researchers found that “preliminary sea level rise data… indicates that storms of 1% or 100 years will likely be 20 inches higher in 2050. Trends … Estimate that around 68 buildings along the Thames will be vulnerable to flooding in 2050. This is a significant increase from current 100-year flood projections, which estimate that only 12 buildings are at risk.
Seth said Connecticut’s average temperatures have already risen more than the global average – about 2 degrees Fahrenheit. She added that projections show an increase in extreme rainfall, or, conversely, the potential for more drought in summer.
Barrett and Seth both said Connecticut could improve by eliminating fossil fuel emissions. Barrett highlighted the infrastructure bill, currently before the US House of Representatives, and how it could strengthen public transportation in the state. And Seth referred to the Transportation Climate Initiative, or TCI, a plan backed by Governor Ned Lamont that ultimately failed to pass by the state legislature in last year’s regular session.
Originally in the state budget, the TCI was removed as a result of backlash, mostly from Republicans, as from 2023 the program is expected to increase gas prices by around $ 5. cents per gallon. The measure aims to reduce the state’s carbon emissions by capping carbon pollution from transport. The money generated by gas suppliers buying carbon credits would then go to some communities in Connecticut affected by the pollution, as well as more environmentally friendly transportation initiatives.
The state legislature is expected to hold an extraordinary session this month, during which the ICT could be brought up.
“The state is fairly progressive and there have been a number of legislative efforts to limit CO2 emissions, but (TCI) has failed to gain enough support mainly due to media misinformation.” , Seth said. “The TCI was not successful because people called it a gas tax. We have to do a better job of communicating with people and helping them understand, this is too urgent an issue to play this genre. games.”
In response to the climate report, Lamont and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes issued a joint statement in August, in which they urged the implementation of the TCI.
“Transportation remains the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in Connecticut and across the United States,” the statement read. “In the long term, adopting programs like the Transportation and Climate Initiative will be key to reducing emissions in our state and region, creating green jobs for a thriving economy and cleaning our air, thereby making healthier and safer communities for all. “
Eickel stressed the importance of the TCI and said she expects it to be voted on in extraordinary session. She said it would be one of the state’s most progressive climate policies. Connecticut would participate with Massachusetts and Rhode Island, if adopted in all three states.
“This is a regional approach to reducing our carbon emissions, generating income for areas overloaded with air pollution. The positive health impacts will be significant,” Eickel said. “The State has adopted our climate objectives of reducing our greenhouse gases by 45% by 2030, which is not that far away. We cannot abandon the legislation that will bring us into this area. Especially by participating as a regional partner, we have to make a commitment to do so, we cannot back down. “