Assessing Impacts and Developing Adaptation Strategies for Connecticut’s Natural and Built Environments
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) is engaged in both mitigation and adaptation strategies to reduce the vulnerability of the state’s natural resources to climate change. The CT DEEP is part of the Governor’s Council on Climate (GC3), which addresses mitigation strategies as well as adaptation and resilience in the face of climate change, and plays a lead policy and regulatory role in the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Adaptation (CIRCA). In addition, the CT DEEP provides education and outreach materials through a dedicated climate change website.
The Global Warming Solutions Act (Public Act No. 08-98), adopted in 2008 by the state General Assembly, outlined mitigation goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state. As part of this, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was required to analyze emissions levels and develop a strategy of regulatory policies and actions needed to fulfill the requirements set out in the GWSA. In addition, DEP became co-chair of the Adaptation Subcommittee (created by the Governor’s Steering Committee on Climate Change, which became the Governor’s Council on Climate [GC3] in 2015). In 2011, DEP became the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), which was established to integrate environmental and energy policies. The CT DEEP is charged with conserving, improving, and protecting the State’s natural resources and environment, as well as making cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy available for people and businesses. The CT DEEP has based its adaptation actions on the Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment, which projects that climate change will cause increased temperatures, changes in precipitation, sea level rise, flooding, erosion, loss of biodiversity and habitat, and range shifts throughout Connecticut and the rest of New England.
The CT DEEP has played a significant role in mitigation and adaptation planning in the state since 2010. Examples include:
- In 2010, The Impacts of Climate Change on Connecticut Agriculture, Infrastructure, Natural Resources, and Public Health was released, which detailed the assessment of climate impacts and general recommendations for potential adaptation measures on the four different sectors. In 2013, a follow-up report––Connecticut Climate Change Preparedness Plan––was released, which identifies strategies for adapting to the impacts of a changing climate.
- In 2014, the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) was launched, which combines the research capabilities of the University of Connecticut with the policy and regulatory experience of CT DEEP. CIRCA aims to increase the resilience and sustainability of coastal and inland floodplain communities to the impacts of climate change on the natural, built, and human environment. CIRCA engages in and/or has funded projects related to community climate adaptation planning and policy, green infrastructure and living shorelines, critical infrastructure vulnerability and resilience, inland and coastal flooding, and sea level rise.
- In 2015, the Exploring Climate Solutions Webinar Series was launched, which explores innovative and successful climate change solutions that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or improve climate resilience.
- In 2018, the CT DEEP released the 2018 Comprehensive Energy Strategy to advance the state’s goal to create cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy. Also in 2018, CIRCA released a final report, Sea Level Rise in CT, and developed a Connecticut Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge Viewer tool.
- In 2019, Public Act 18-82 authorized CT DEEP to publish Connecticut sea level change scenarios as updated by CIRCA, and requires that all future state projects located in the Coastal Boundary meet CIRCA’s projections.
- CT DEEP awarded approximately $750,000 for municipal resilience planning in nine different municipalities.
- The CT DEEP has also established a dedicated website for its climate change program. The site directs users to resources to learn more about the GC3; climate programs and partnerships; ways for residents, local governments, and businesses to take action; educational resources; climate and clean energy technology reports and publications; news and events; and tools and resources.
Outcomes and Conclusions
The CT DEEP continues to lead mitigation and adaptation efforts in the state and provide education and outreach materials for residents, businesses, communities, and local governments on its website. Most recently, CIRCA, in coordination with CT DEEP and others, initiated Resilient Connecticut, which provides the states with a regionally-focused climate adaptation planning framework and includes resilience planning, policy considerations, and actionable priorities.
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection: Climate Change
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection: Exploring Climate Solutions Webinar Series
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection: 2018 Comprehensive Energy Strategy
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection: Adapting to Connecticut's Changing Climate
Department of Marine Sciences and Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation: Sea Level Rise in Connecticut
Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA)
Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation (CIRCA): Sea Level Rise Viewer
Facing Our Future: Adapting to Connecticut's Change Climate (2009)
UCONN Resilient Connecticut
Climate Action Timeline for Connecticut
Connecticut Climate Change Preparedness Plan
Gregg, R. M. (2020). Assessing Impacts and Developing Adaptation Strategies for Connecticut's Natural and Built Environments [Case study on a project of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. (Last updated March 2020)