In a letter that commends Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo for her June 12 executive order “Reaffirming Rhode Island’s Commitment to the Principles of Paris Climate Agreement” the Civic Alliance for a Cooler Rhode Island (CACRI) nevertheless demanded “more and swifter action regarding CO2 release, the use of fossil fuels, climate change mitigation and how emissions are measured in Rhode Island.”
The group, led by Ken Payne (principal of Systems Aesthetics LLC, administrator of the Rhode Island Agricultural Partnership, and chairman of the Rhode Island Food Policy Council) and Timmons Roberts (Ittleson Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology at Brown University, where he was director of the Center for Environmental Studies and a Non-Resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution), reaffirms the Governor’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and laid out the following policy prescriptions:
- Update emission targets. Direct the EC4 to review the science and update the state’s emission reduction targets (e.g. to net zero emissions by 2035, as the US Council of Mayors have just done). This would make Rhode Island exemplary, provide a model other states could adapt consistent with their circumstances, and show substantive commitment in the US 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 GHG (Green House Gas)emissions from all parts of our 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 we spend each year 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 emissions reductions efforts.
“I believe that the Executive Order is constitutionally appropriate,” said Payne. “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.”
In their press release, CACRI writes:
“The Paris Climate Agreement 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.’ The Agreement recognizes ‘importance of the engagement of all levels of government and various actors…'”