Connecticut joins alliance committed to Paris climate accord

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Gina McCarthy, then the EPA administrator, charging an electric car in Hartford.

Connecticut became one of the early states to rebuke President Trump’s disavowal of the Paris climate accord with a decision Friday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to join a fast-growing coalition of states, cities, businesses and universities intent on ensuring the U.S. still acts to reduce greenhouse gases.

Malloy, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, joins the Democratic governors of California, New York and Washington state in the United States Climate Alliance, a group quickly organized Thursday by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others in the wake of Trump’s announcement the U.S. would stand apart from the world’s nations on the issue of climate change.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican who declined to support Trump or attend the Republican National Convention, signed on later Friday, according to the Boston Globe.

The decision was an easy one for a governor in Connecticut, a state with a long history of bipartisan support of efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. Gina McCarthy, a top advisor to the Obama administration on the issue, was the state’s top environmental regulator under Malloy’s predecessor, Republican M. Jodi Rell.

“Connecticut has been a national leader in combatting climate change and we have no plans of slowing down our efforts,” Malloy said. “In the absence of leadership from the White House in addressing climate change, it is incumbent upon the states to take action in order to protect their residents.”

On the eve of the Paris climate talks in December 2015, Malloy signed global compact among cities, states and provinces worldwide to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

McCarthy, who later became Obama’s administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, played a role during her time in Connecticut in helping develop the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI.

Since 2009, a collective of northeastern and mid-Atlantic states have been operating the nation’s first multi-state cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by the burning of fossil fuels.

It was not immediately clear what other actions might be required of Connecticut as a participant in the climate alliance.

“We remain committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement because it is the right thing to do for not only the future of our state, but for the future of our planet,” Malloy said in a statement. “I am proud to stand with my fellow governors in support of efforts to reverse the harmful effects of global warming and to send a message to the rest of the world that we accept the science of climate change and we will not let the misguided beliefs of a few ruin our planet.”

The coalition’s goal is to circumvent the president’s opposition by signing up a wide range of U.S. institutions who would do what the U.S. government under Trump will not: Continue working to reduce carbon emissions blamed for global warming.

“We’re going to do everything America would have done if it had stayed committed,” Bloomberg told the New York Times.

Obama had pledged America would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions measured in 2005 by 26 percent before 2025.

Wesleyan is one of 82 colleges and universities whose chancellors or presidents are participating.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said City Hall would be bathed in green light Friday night to signal the city’s support.

“I’m proud to join with cities and states around the country to commit to filling the void on environmental responsibility that this decision leaves,” Bronin said. “In Hartford, we are on the path to reduce our energy consumption by 20 percent by 2018 with the dedicated work of city employees and leadership of our Climate Stewardship Council.”

Potential Democratic candidates for governor in 2018 were quick to denounce Trump and endorse the new alliance.

“One man can walk away, but the people of Connecticut – and leaders from across the nation – are still here,” Comptroller Kevin Lembo said in a statement emailed to reporters immediately after Malloy’s announcement. “No fact-driven, future-focused leader is walking away from science, data, innovation and our environmental and economic future.”

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