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CT legislators push for new climate laws to improve public health

State Rep. Christine Palm
Molly Ingram
State Rep. Christine Palm

Climate and health activists urged Connecticut lawmakers to declare a climate crisis to demonstrate the urgency of responding to the changing environment on Wednesday.

State Senator Saud Anwar (D- East Hartford), a doctor specializing in lung diseases, said the state needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to improve health outcomes.

He said air pollution is worsening illnesses like asthma, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

He urged the legislature to pass HB 5004.

“Yes, we will need to look at the financial aspects, but we are talking about lives, not one or two lives — thousands of lives,” Anwar said.

The bill would direct the state to be more aggressive in requiring the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy investments.

It would also incentivize sustainable purchasing for cities and towns and promote investments in green economy startups, like renewable energy.

State Representative Christine Palm (D-Chester), a member of the state environment and public health committees, said the effects of climate change are far-reaching — she said she is concerned about the impact on mental health, especially for young people.

“From our young people, we are learning about the devastating toll that is taking on mental health. Climate anxiety and despair are real,” Palm said. “These are not coddled snowflakes; these are young people, 40% of whom are seriously questioning whether or not to have children.”

HB 5004 is co-sponsored by more than 38 members of the legislature.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.