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Monday, July 17, 2017

Demanding a cooler Rhode Island - Two statements

From the 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.”

Fossil Free RI and ten other groups sent Governor Gina Raimondo a letter outlining steps that she must champion to provide meaningful leadership at this year’s Summer Meeting of the National Governors Association currently taking place in Providence. [*]

Governor Raimondo is well aware of the threat of climate change, as witnessed by her laudable initiative to “set a goal to secure 1000 MW of clean energy resources and double the number of clean energy jobs by 2020.”  

The governor’s statements and executive orders have focused on the economy and jobs, but they have stopped short of setting the goal of powering all sectors of Rhode Island’s economy with renewable energy by 2035.  The governor has not committed to rejecting all proposals for additional fossil fuel infrastructure, nor has she called for the elimination of fracking and other forms of extreme energy extraction.

In their letter, the groups demand that fossil fuels be replaced with renewables at a rate consistent with the accelerating climate crisis.  Indeed, according to a recent report by the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring Assessment Program, extreme arctic ice melt is worsening the threat of sea level rise. The latest estimate is nearly twice that of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). [1]  

Also, as reported in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, the Arctic Ocean could, as early as 2030, lose essentially all its ice during the warmest months of the year. The increasingly blue Arctic Ocean will amplify global warming and wreak havoc with weather patterns around the globe. [2]

Global Sea ice loss spiraling out of control

Peter Nightingale, founding member of Fossil Free RI and professor of physics at University of Rhode Island stated: “The right to a livable climate is fundamental to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ The federal government has been captured by fossil fuel industries, it is therefore up to state governments to follow the moral law to protect this right for present and future generations.”

Attached is the letter that the governor has received and many people are watching to see if Governor Raimondo both at the convention and in Rhode Island, offers the required bold leadership.

  • The letter was signed by:
  • American Friends Service Committee–South East New England
    Burrillville Land Trust
    Climate Action RI
    Fossil Free Rhode Island
    Nature’s Trust Rhode Island
    Our Revolution RI
    Rhode island Association of Conservation Commissions
    Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light
    Sisters of Mercy Ecology
    United Against Clear River Energy Center
    Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South County–Green Task Force

1. Extreme Arctic Melt Is Raising Sea Level Rise Threat; New Estimate Nearly Twice IPCC’s

Arctic 2.0: What happens after all the ice goes?

* Note—Some groups were unable to convene board meetings in time for this letter’s release, we expect to update the sign on in the near future.

Fossil Free Rhode Island spurs real action on runaway climate change, which poses a mortal threat to the biosphere of which the human species is a part. We seek to redress inequitable distribution of environmental burdens of both local and global impact. We believe that all institutions that serve the public good should divest from fossil fuels., @FossilFreeRI and