Located between New York’s Hudson River Valley and Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, Connecticut is home to 3.5 million people and encompasses 5.5 thousand square miles, making it the third smallest state by area, the 29th most populous, and the fourth most densely populated of the fifty states.
Connecticut’s topography varies from hilly slopes in the northwestern portion of the state to the southeastern coast along the Long Island Sound. Its climate, like many of its Southern New England neighbors, is experiencing shorter and warmer winters, hotter summers, longer and more intense heat waves, rising sea level, and bigger rain storms – all things that show climate change isn’t something that’s coming, it’s something that is here. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Connecticut’s temperatures have increased an average of 3 degrees.
Connecticut’s greatest climate change risks are inextricably intertwined with its 217 miles of Long Island Sound shoreline. Nearly 40 percent of its population lives in 36 coastal communities, all of which now face a dangerous combination of rising water levels and frequent storms.
As sea levels have risen along the Connecticut coastline, the number of tidal flood days have gradually increased overwhelming storm drains. Global sea levels are projected to rise another 1 to 4 feet by 2100 as a result of both past and future emissions from human activities, and even greater increases can be expected along the northeast U.S. coast following historical trends.
Natural gas and nuclear power fueled almost 95% of Connecticut’s utility-scale electricity net generation in 2019. Although only one nuclear power plant exists in Connecticut, it is the 2,073-megawatt Millstone nuclear power station, which has supplied over two-fifths of Connecticut’s net generation. Connecticut does have one remaining coal-fired power plant at the Bridgeport Harbor Station, which contributed less than 0.2% of the state’s net generation. Renewable resources provided about 5% of Connecticut’s electricity net generation in 2019. Solar power and biomass contributed almost equal amounts of that generation and together accounted for about three-fourths of the state’s total renewable generation. Hydroelectric sources provided about one-fourth.
Connecticut does not have any crude oil reserves and does not produce or refine petroleum. However, a pipeline originating in New Haven delivers refined petroleum products to central Connecticut and terminates in central Massachusetts. About seven-tenths of the petroleum consumed in Connecticut is used in the transportation sector, primarily as motor gasoline. Connecticut does not have any natural gas reserves or production. Nor coal.
The Connecticut legislature has taken steps to combat climate change and global warming. In 1990, Connecticut passed the Public Act 08-98, An Act Concerning Connecticut Global Warming Solutions. The implementation of this act required the state to reduce emissions by 10 percent (from 1990 emissions) by 2020, as well as mandating an 80 percent reduction (from 2001 emissions) by 2050. Connecticut’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) was created in 1998 and has been revised several times since then. The RPS requires that increasing amounts of electricity sold in the state be generated from renewable resources, reaching 40% by 2030.
Currently, efforts to combat climate change are focused on greenhouse gas emission reduction. Connecticut’s governor signed legislation into law in June, 2019 requiring the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to solicit proposals to install up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind generating capacity by 2030.
Connecticut is one of twenty five states committed to the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is working to implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.