When Justin Boyan of Climate Action Rhode Island asked the crowd gathered in the “designated demonstration area” outside the Rhode Island Convention Center how they would rate state level political leadership on their response to climate change, he was met with a unified voice of disapproval and boos.
Boyan agreed. “It’s ridiculous! It’s crickets! Inaction! Platitudes, cowardice. At best half measures!”
The Rally for Action on Climate Change was held in response to the National Governor’s Association meeting being hosted by Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo. Almost all the Governors attending the conference, including Raimondo, actively support the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in their states despite the stark reality that our dependence on this energy source is killing the planet. The people gathered in protest want to change this.
Specifically, the demonstrators demanded “urgent action to reduce carbon emissions. Governors must lead their states to:
- “Plan an aggressive transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035
- “Adopt carbon dividends to reward conservation
- “Ban fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure, including the power plant in northwestern RI and the liquefaction plant in Providence
- “Support climate research, energy innovation, land preservation, and green jobs for a sustainable future.”
Here’s Justin Boyan and the rest of the speakers at the rally:
“The governors and ours in particular have made important statements in support of the Paris climate agreement,” said Timmons Roberts of Brown University, “These are important but they are only words if they aren’t backed up with real policy action, such as the creation of economy-wide carbon pricing, which can create thousands of jobs in Rhode Island while sharply reducing our energy waste. Regional efforts are great, but some governor needs to lead on this: it’s a real opportunity for Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island.”
Alexandra Duryea, sustainability coordinator with Providence College celebrated her birthday at the rally, saying, “Care about what your kids and grand kids are going to have to deal with, a result of behaviors and actions they had no control over.”
Jerry Elmer of Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) took Governor Raimondo to task. “CLF was honored to be invited to attend the ceremony on June 12 when Governor Raimondo signed an Executive Order committing Rhode Island to follow the carbon-emission goals set by the Paris Climate Accord. When the Trump Administration made the mistake of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, that made it important for states and cities to step up and commit themselves to action on climate. But Governor Raimondo’s gesture is meaningless and empty unless it is backed up with concrete action. Governor Raimondo cannot simultaneously support the Paris Agreement and support Invenergy’s plan to build a carbon-emitting, diesel oil, and fracked gas power plant in Burrillville.”
Monica Huertas from No LNG in PVD is fighting National Grid‘s plan to build a liquefaction facility in her neighborhood. “I love the polar bears, and I love the animals that are out in the wilderness, but first and foremost I love the children of South Providence,” said Huertas in a short speech that elicited tears from attendees, “They are being poisoned by these gases… the highest asthma rates- we have it on the South Side of Providence.”
“Rhode Island cannot afford a fossil fuel future,” said Kat Burnham of the Environmental Council of Rhode Island. “As the Ocean State, we are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”
Paul Roselli from the Burrillville Land Trust has been a strong fighter against the power plant in Burrillville. “From state to state, province to province, region to region, the words echo from reservoirs, rivers, lakes, ponds and streams…water is life,” said Roselli,”We are here today to tell you, our governors, leaders in policy change, you must hear our voice too – with one resounding voice, when it comes to our precious natural resources, enact legislation that protects our waters for all time. Let’s do it now!”
“All governors need to act on Climate Change at the pace nature’s timetable requires, using the melting of the arctic as the measure-great challenges require bold action,” said Robert Malin from Fossil Free Rhode Island, “Climate change is real mostly man-made and at our door much quicker than expected.”