Press Releases


State's Latest Climate Report Card Shows Need to Accelerate Emissions Reductions to Meet 2030 Target

(HARTFORD) — The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (“DEEP”) published its latest Greenhouse Gas (“GHG”) Emissions Inventory, the most comprehensive accounting of the state’s air pollution that contributes to climate change. In tracking progress toward the state’s statutory GHG emissions reduction targets, the report’s preliminary data shows that emissions increased in 2022 for a second consecutive year.

While the state has made progress since 1990, there is work to be done to meet pollution reduction goals set by the legislature. While Connecticut met its goal for 2020 emissions set by Connecticut statute, an accelerated pace of reductions is needed to meet statutory medium- and long-term goals. Based on preliminary data, the top three emitting sectors in 2022 were responsible for over three-quarters of the state’s total emissions: transportation (42 percent), residential heating with fossil fuels (21 percent), and commercial building heating with fossil fuels (13 percent). 

In 2020, Connecticut met an emission-reduction goal set by the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act. Reaching the next goal - 45 percent reduction in GHG emissions from 2001 levels by 2030 - requires an average reduction of 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) each year between 2022 and 2030. Connecticut has not yet achieved this rate. The legislature established those goals to mitigate climate change, while improving the health of Connecticut residents, creating opportunities for Connecticut businesses, and reducing energy costs for all Connecticut residents.

“As we celebrate Earth Week, we are continuing our urgent work to do our part to reduce the global threat of climate change for the benefit of all Connecticut as well as global residents,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “While we’ve made progress, particularly in decarbonizing the electricity generation sector, we will need to substantially increase the pace of reductions over the next five years to meet our next legislative goal in 2030. The transportation sector continues to be the largest source of our emissions, with emissions from residential and commercial buildings a close second. DEEP will continue to work with our partners to ramp up investment in a decarbonized grid, clean transportation, and efficient buildings to help our state get on track to meet our statutory targets.”

“What the Greenhouse Gas Inventory reinforces is that we will continue to experience the severe health impacts of human-caused climate change,” said Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD. “Increased emissions can result in drastic shifts in precipitation patterns, more frost-free days, and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The public health costs associated with GHG emissions far exceed any dollar value. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the health effects from these disruptions include increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injuries, and premature deaths related to extreme weather events. Other dangerous results of climate change include the worldwide increase of water-borne illnesses and other infectious diseases, and even threats to mental health.”

“It is disturbing that Connecticut is not on track to reach our greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, largely because we have not taken the steps to reduce transportation related emissions,” said Dr. Mark Mitchell, co-chair of the Connecticut Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Council. “This is important not only for climate change, but also because these emissions are significant causes of air pollution-related conditions such as asthma, premature birth, autism, ADHD, and Alzheimer's Disease. This disproportionately affects low wealth communities, such as Hartford, where I live, and also disproportionately affect people of color of all income levels, due to historical and systemic racialized policies, such as the location of highways and other sources of pollution. As a public health physician, I must advocate for the health of these populations, which requires rapid phasing in of zero emissions cars, trucks, and buses.”

The data provide a report card detailing over 30 years of emissions, back to 1990, and includes preliminary estimates for 2022 emissions. New in this inventory is the inclusion of carbon sequestration by Connecticut’s forests and urban trees, which serve as a nature-based solution reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The report concludes by assessing progress toward emissions reduction in each sector, including a review of policies and programs underway to further mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and impacts.

Other high-level takeaways from the report include:

  • In 2021, Connecticut’s GHG emissions were 34.7 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), up 6 percent from 32.7 MMTCO2e in 2020. DEEP estimates that emissions increased to 35.0 MMTCO2e in 2022, which is 28 percent below 2001 levels, driven largely by reductions in the electric power sector since 2010.
  • In the inventory report issued last year, DEEP noted that declines in GHG emissions in 2020 and 2021 (2021 data were preliminary) were likely driven by the economic downturn associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and that emissions were likely to rebound as the economy recovered. Hence, the 7 percent increase in emissions since 2020, and verified in the report issued today, is an expected outcome and underscores the need to intensify efforts to reduce emissions.
  • This inventory, for the first time since the 2009 inventory, estimates the amount of carbon dioxide the state’s natural and working lands removed from the atmosphere. It indicates that in 2021, Connecticut’s forests and urban trees served as a nature-based solution reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by an estimated 6.3 MMTCO2e (net).  

Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney, Save the Sound, said, “This latest inventory underscores the urgent need for increased efforts to reduce emissions to meet our legal commitments to Connecticut residents and our moral commitments to future generations. Greenhouse gas emissions actually increasing in recent years shows how transitory progress can be without strong policies in place. Achieving the reductions required by the Global Warming Solutions Act will require deeper, more rapid emissions reductions from the transportation and building sectors in particular, and policies to ensure those reductions are sustained. Additionally, our climate targets cannot be achieved without continued and increased investment in clean renewable energy that frees us from reliance on fossil fuels. Fossil fuel combustion also generates nitrogen oxides, particulates, and other pollutants that hurt Connecticut residents’ health, so moving away from them will have tremendous benefits for public health as well as our climate.”

The burning of fossil fuels for transportation is the largest source of GHG emissions and air pollutants in Connecticut. The inventory report follows the recent release of the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air Report,” which ranked the Hartford metro area the 2nd worst in the northeast for ozone pollution. Fairfield County continues to experience the worst air quality on the east coast. The ALA report grades exposure to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone air pollution, annual particle pollution and short-term spikes in particle pollution over a three-year period.

Both Connecticut’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory and the Lung Association’s State of the Air Report highlight that we have a lot of work to do here in Connecticut to meet our air pollution reduction standards for climate change, environmental justice and health,” said Ruth Canovi, Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in Connecticut.  “While it is critical to set these goals, it is equally important to put the resources and plans in place to ensure we realize these necessary aims. These reports demonstrate that now is the time to take strong action to help us meet these emissions standards and protect our health.”

Global warming exacerbates formation of ground-level ozone, while nitrous oxide and methane, precursors of ground-level ozone, are potent greenhouse gases. The report underscores that while the inventory analyzes GHG transportation emissions statewide, the negative impacts of air pollutants are concentrated in Connecticut’s most overburdened communities. Reducing emissions in the transportation sector will fight climate change and make our air cleaner now.

There is an unprecedented level of federal funding available through grants, rebates, and tax credits for local government, organizations, businesses, and residents to utilize readily available clean technology of zero emission vehicles, heat pumps for heating and cooling homes and businesses, and renewable energy sources including residential solar for which the state was awarded $62.5M this week. Combined with legislative and regulatory actions, the state has an incredible opportunity to drive down emissions, achieve targets, and address the climate crisis.

The state set GHG emission reduction targets in 2008, passing legislation that established a mandate to reduce statewide GHG emissions, the most recent milestone being 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, while also establishing an 80 percent below 2001 levels goal by 2050. In 2018, to guide progress toward the 2050 target, the legislature added a medium-term target of 45 percent emissions reductions below the 2001 level by 2030. Last year, the legislature codified Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 3 with the passage of Public Act No. 22-5, requiring Connecticut’s electrical grid to be carbon free by 2040.

For the complete report, go here.  

To view previous GHG Emissions Inventories, go here.