By Heather Burns
I attended the inaugural Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) meeting led by Commissioner, CT Department of Energy, Robert Klee, and was deeply impressed by the depth of commitment and intention of the Council.
During introductions, personal anecdotes illustrated why the work “addressing climate change – the most important issue of our time” was essential for this and future generations, and a strong commitment to the mission of the Council echoed around the room. Governor Malloy addressed the Council emphasizing the importance of taking bold, swift action and to making the most of one’s time spent in government office. Collaboration and cross sector partnerships were iterated as key opportunities for developing and implementing solutions.
And while the “what” (carbon reductions); the “why” (healthy human existence on Earth) was clearly expressed; the how was not. Not unlike any multi-stakeholder group seeking to create a solutions-based plan to combat a complex problem, the how is always where the rubber meets the road.
A complex issue such as climate change – and the direct and indirect social and economic impacts of achieving meaningful carbon reductions – has deep roots in a broken system and requires clear and shared definitions before diving into the components of mapping a plan. An example was the continued reference to "clean energy" by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission as nuclear and gas rather than wind, hydro and solar which are supported by agencies such as NASA and the international science community, as well as the type of clean energy projects funded by GC3 member Connecticut Green Bank.
The “who” beyond government agencies and NGOs was also vague as a continued reference to business and industry as a key stakeholder, surfaced an absence of representation. One of the goals of the newly founded Connecticut Sustainable Business Council is to create a platform for businesses within the state to engage in processes such as these, and to be able to contribute innovative, triple bottom line solutions being developed by many companies today. We stand by ready to assist.
Even with all of the layers of complexities and dynamics to navigate, I have faith in GC3 to create clear shared definitions, include the sustainable business sector, establish realistic interim steps, and to consider implementation strategies when developing the framework of a plan.