Activists march through Hartford in support of climate action, environmental justice, telling legislature the ‘time for action is now’

Several hundred activists marched Tuesday in Hartford to urge Connecticut’s legislature and other local institutions to act against climate change.

Chanting “climate action now” and “Planet Earth is under attack,” the group began at Eversource’s corporate office, then progressed to Travelers, UConn Hartford, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and finally the state Capitol.

At each stop, speakers urged climate measures, including the passage and implementation of legislation, emissions reductions at Eversource and divestment from fossil fuels, including at UConn. They held signs with messages such as “CT must lead on climate” and chanted “hey hey, ho ho, fossils fuels have got to go.”

“We want legislators to take real action this session, passing true legislation to support climate action now,” Leticia Colon de Mejias, president and founder of Green Eco Warriors, said outside the Capitol. “The time for increased emissions is over. The time for action is now.”

Several speakers emphasized the disproportionate impact of climate change on poor people and people of color.

“We need stronger environmental justice laws in this state now,” said Katharine Morris of CT Equity Now. “It’s not the end of the road but the first step to dismantling a system that has made certain communities disposable, the first to be sacrificed.”

Ann Gadwah, an organizer with Connecticut’s Sierra Club chapter, said the rally Tuesday was a collaboration of several local climate groups seeking to raise the issue ahead of the legislative session that begins this week.

“There’s been some progress, but we’re falling behind other states in the region,” Gadwah said. “We need to start thinking about the future and thinking about meeting our greenhouse gas reduction goals.”

Activists have grown increasingly frustrated with both Gov. Ned Lamont and the state legislature for their failure to pass major climate legislation. Climate groups had lobbied aggressively in favor of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a regional program that would have reduced carbon emissions while raising money to fund resiliency projects but which fell apart after Lamont announced the proposal lacked support in the legislature.

Though TCI won’t be on the agenda during the upcoming legislative session, climate groups say they will push for stricter enforcement of existing climate laws, improved efficiency standards for buildings, an end to permits for fossil fuel powerplants, new standards to reduce emissions from trucks and other large vehicles, and increased solar energy generation.

Lamont has said he will be able to accomplish major climate goals using federal infrastructure funding, and he recently signed an executive order aimed at lowering emissions in Connecticut’s executive branch. But activists say the state must do more.

“We need an all-out effort at the state level,” Gadwah said.

Melinda Tuhus, 73, of Hamden, said she attended Tuesday’s rally to pressure institutions to take climate change more seriously.

“We have to build a multi-racial, multi-generational movement to have a chance of having a livable world for our children,” she said.

Leslie Sweetnam, a Sierra Club member from Woodstock, dressed as Uncle Sam and walked on stilts, while holding a sign that said, “America is my country, but Earth is my home.”

“There’s nothing like stilts for getting attention,” he said.

Experts say Connecticut has already begun to feel the impact of climate change through rising sea levels, warmer temperatures and an increase in storms and flooding events. These effects are expected to grow more severe in the coming years, with effects likely most significant for those with fewer resources.

A recent report from the Yale School of the Environment and others recommended Connecticut act more aggressively to address the unequal impacts of climate change, through better information for residents, flood mitigation and other resiliency measures, and increased tree canopy and cooling centers.

“A community-centered approach to planning is essential for policymakers charged with the design and implementation of equitable climate policies in Connecticut,” the report said.

Alex Putterman can be reached at