- Connecticut has reversed course after several years of reductions to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and nonprofit Acadia Center says in a new report that the state is no longer on track to meet required limits by 2020, the Hartford Courant reports.
- Total GHG emissions increased 1.7% from 2012 to 2014, from 39.6 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent to 41.3 MMTCO2e. Acadia Center said it marks the first two-year increase in GHG emissions for Connecticut since 2003-2004.
- Connecticut's increase may reflect a regional trend, with the ISO New England earlier this year saying emissions in its market area rose slightly in 2015, reversing years of sustained progress.
After eight years of progress, from 2004 to 2012, GHG emissions turned north over a two-year period and that has put at risk the state's ability to meet legislatively-mandated reductions according to Acadia Center's analysis.
“This new, sustained upward trend in Connecticut’s greenhouse gas emissions is a cause for concern,” Acadia Center President Daniel Sosland said in a statement. “We need stronger and faster reductions in GHG emissions through policies that we know are effective, such as eliminating costly energy waste, reforming our energy rules so that investments in exciting, community oriented clean energy technologies can flourish, and increasing our clean energy supply."
Sosland added that Connecticut can use development of its Comprehensive Energy Strategy to establish a "clear policy path that will bring the state into compliance with its 2020 GHG emissions limit. We cannot afford to backslide any further.”
Connecticut lawmakers in 2008 passed the Global Warming Solutions Act, requiring the state to reduce GHG emissions to at least 10% below 1990 levels by 2020. But the state appears to be moving in the wrong direction despite progress declines in the beginning, and Acadia's report also showed preliminary data for 2015 suggests that emissions could continue to rise.
“We need to move quickly and aggressively if we are to have any real chance of complying with the state’s 2020 GHG emissions limit,” said Jamie Howland, director of Acadia Center’s Climate and Energy Analysis Center.
Howland said the state must eliminate the recent emissions increase in a little over three years to meet the 2020 mandate, but called it a major challenge that is "achievable if we immediately expand policies we already have in place." Those could include ramping up energy efficiency investments and renewables goals, strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s emissions cap, and avoiding new fossil fuel infrastructure projects.
The grid operator for New England earlier this year said Entergy's decision in 2014 to shutter the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has boosted emissions. The ISO New England in an annual environmental impact report said that as a result of the lost carbon-free generation, emissions in the region topped 30 million tons last year, up from 28 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2014.
The Vermont Yankee nuclear facility, for instance, accounted for 4% of New England's total electric generation.