Alliance Demands Gov. Raimondo Take Climate-Change Action

By ecoRI News staff

The Civic Alliance for a Cooler Rhode Island recently sent Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo a letter "demanding more and swifter action" regarding carbon dioxide release, the use of fossil fuels, climate-change mitigation and how emissions are measured in the Ocean State.

The alliance, made up of members from for-profit companies, nonprofits and environmental organizations and led by Ken Payne and J. Timmons Roberts, reaffirms the governor’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. The June 28 letter also asks the governor to do the following:

Direct the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) to review the science and update the state’s emission-reduction targets — i.e., to net-zero emissions by 2035, as the U.S. Council of Mayors has just done. This would make Rhode Island exemplary, provide a model other states could copy, and show substantive commitment in the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Include embedded energy in calculations of state emissions. The EC4 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan of 2016 switched to “consumption based” emissions accounting. To do so in a scientifically defensible way requires we include greenhouse-gas emissions from all parts of the state economy’s supply and disposal chains.

Advance ambitious economy-wide carbon pricing in the 2018 legislative session. Rhode Island can benefit with net jobs and net economic growth by keeping more of the $4 billion spent annually on fossil fuels here in the state.

Appoint a chief mitigation officer to complement the resilience officer within the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank. Such a position is needed for the state to oversee and advance emission-reduction efforts.

“I believe that the Executive Order is constitutionally appropriate,” said Payne, former Office of Energy director and former policy director at the Statehouse. “The Rhode Island Constitution establishes our state government ‘for the protection, safety, and happiness of the people’ and to secure to the people‘their rights to the use and enjoyment of the natural resources of the state with due regard for the preservation of their values.’ Climate change, which is global, threatens public health and safety and the enjoyment of the natural resources of the state.”

The Civic Alliance for a Cooler Rhode Island noted that the Paris accord acknowledges “that climate change is a common concern of humankind.” It “aims to strengthen the global response” by “holding the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” It specifies parties “are to undertake and communicate ambitious efforts,” and it provides that efforts to contribute to the reductions in the causes of climate will “reflect its highest possible ambition, reflecting its common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.”