Published May 07. 2014 4:00AM
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Robert Klee, commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, responded to the findings of the National Climate Assessment by highlighting actions the state is taking to adapt and limit climate change and calling for additional steps.
"It's clear from the National Climate Assessment that we must strengthen our efforts to reduce the volume of harmful carbon emissions into the atmosphere while putting strategies in place to adapt to changes we are going to see as a result of existing levels," Malloy said in a news release. "In Connecticut, we are taking actions to limit carbon emissions which serve as a model for the nation. We are a charter member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state program that has reduced carbon emissions from plants that generate electricity by 40 percent since 2005. Our Comprehensive Energy Strategy will also drive down emissions, with its emphasis on energy efficiency, renewable power, and the use of alternative vehicles in the transportation sector."
Malloy and Klee noted the assessment's main findings that climate change is happening across the country, affecting people and natural resources, and has been primarily caused by human activities including the burning of fossil fuels.
Malloy said the state's climate adaptation projects include adoption of the Climate Preparedness Plan, assistance for shoreline property owners and environmentally sound protection of the shoreline. It has also launched the Connecticut Institute for Resiliency and Climate Adaptation at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus in Groton.
"CIRCA will develop strategies and programs to help Connecticut's residents and communities reduce the loss of life, property and natural resources from future high-impact weather events as well as from sea level rise and flooding," Malloy said.
Klee said climate change "is not a distant or future phenomena."
"It is happening right here in Connecticut right now," he said. "In Long Island Sound, water levels are rising, water temperatures are increasing, and we are seeing a decline in cold water fish species and a marked increase in warm water species."
Klee said the Climate Preparedness Plan shows that across the state 75 species characterized as at-risk or endangered will experience large population declines due to projected changes in climate.
"Ten invasive or potentially invasive species were identified as likely to experience a significant increase in abundance here due to climate," he said. "These unwelcome invasives - including Asian clams, mile-a-minute vine, and new species of mosquitoes that can spread diseases - will put new stresses on our environment and public health."
Klee said changing temperatures and weather conditions will also impact our agriculture products, plant life, and the variety of trees in Connecticut's forests, "threatening, for instance, to drive sugar maple trees out of our state."