Kim Grzybala photo
State Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford (Kim Grzybala photo)

Only days before world leaders meet in Copenhagen to discuss an international agreement on global warming, the “America on the Move” report, concluded that states are already leading the way to creating a solution.

The report, issued by the Environment America Research and Policy Center, reviewed more than 100 policies adopted by states and projected the emission reduction that will result from those actions.

According to the report, state policies will reduce global warming pollution by approximately 536 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2020.

“When it comes to America’s response to global warming, what happens on capital hill is really only half of the story,” Nancy Pyne, field associate at Environment Connecticut, said. “States have great power to reduce global warming within their boarders and many states are already using that power to implement clean energy policies that rival those elsewhere in the world.”

Connecticut is just one of several states that have taken the lead in the fight against global warming.

The U.S. federal government has yet to adopt a binding national limit on global warming emissions, however Connecticut, along with California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, and New Jersey, has set such limits.

These six states account for nearly a quarter of the country’s economic output and thus their initiative to reduce their emissions will be a significant contribution to the overall emission reduction of the country.

“We in Connecticut do have something to be very proud of and that is our leading in the country in respect to climate change legislation,” Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, said.

Meyer, who along with Rep. Richard Roy, D-Milford, who co-chair the legislature’s Environment Committee, said that Connecticut has passed a bill that sets an actual standard in terms of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with bipartisan support, including the support of Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

The standards set will work to reduce emissions by 10 percent by the year 2020 and 80 percent by the year 2050.

Connecticut is also an active member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which encourages power plants to reduce their emissions by requiring them to purchase credits for each ton of carbon dioxide that they emit at auctions held by RGGI.

The work by the state, however, has not gotten through without any opponents, said Meyer. He points to the past Bush Administration and that the Obama Administration has yet to make clear what their policy will be. He also pointed out that local businesses have shown opposition as well, including the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

“Whatever the opposition is saying, they have not been able to explain away the physical evidence that we have of global warming,” Roy said.

The physical evidence that he talked about was evidence that he saw first hand when he visited a glacier. As they walked the path, signs marked the location of where the glacier used to be in past years. The evidence of the glacier shrinking can be seen by signs that go all the way up to the 2000s, he said.

Charles Rothenberger, staff attorney at the Connecticut Fund for the Environment mentioned other areas where Connecticut’s set the bar for global warming legislation.

“We are one of the early adopters of motor vehicle standards related to greenhouse gases for motor vehicles against very strong opposition from the federal government,” he said.

Those standards he says have now been supported Supreme Court rulings and affirmed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We really do provide a model for action and a model that I think will provide a path out of the current economic situation that we face and really provide a brighter future for everybody,” Rothenberger said.