New Report Showcases Need for Rhode Island to Lead on Global Warming

Environment Rhode Island

Providence, R.I. — With a gridlock on energy and climate policy in Congress, Rhode Island and other states can take matters into their own hands to dramatically reduce global warming emissions, according to a study released today by Environment Rhode Island Research & Policy Center. The Center was joined today at the State House by Representative Art Handy of Rhode Island’s 18th House District, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and energy advocacy group People’s Power & Light.

“Science tells us to expect more hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires as fossil fuel pollution warms our world,” said Channing Jones, Field Associate for Environment Rhode Island. “We must rise to the great challenge of reducing emissions as quickly as possible.”

Environment Rhode Island Research & Policy Center’s analysis shows that local government and state actions, with an assist from federal agencies, can cut carbon pollution in Rhode Island by 21 percent by 2020 and 44 percent by 2030 from 2008 levels––and which if enacted in every state can cut emissions nationally by 20 percent by 2020 and 34 percent by 2030. If Rhode Island could enact an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, that alone would reduce carbon emissions by 1.2 million metric tons in 2030––an amount equivalent to over half of Rhode Island households taking a car off the road.

“With steps like these,” said Representative Handy, Chair of the Rhode Island House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, “Rhode Island will see greater overall carbon reduction––which we urgently need––and will place itself at the forefront of developing a green 21st century economy.”

The study, entitled Global Warming Way Forward: Reducing Carbon Pollution Today and Restoring Momentum for Tomorrow by Promoting Clean Energy, evaluates the emission reduction potential of 30 policy tools across 50 states and 5 sectors. The study emphasizes concrete gains already secured from actions right here in Rhode Island from policies including a renewable energy standard, a regional emissions cap, and a clean cars program.

Similar actions across the country have already together yielded a reduction of more than 539 million tons of carbon pollution––an amount equivalent to 7 percent of U.S. global warming pollution in 2007. America’s emissions of global warming pollutants in 2009 were the lowest they have been since 1995.

“Despite the immense challenge we face to dramatically reduce emissions as much as we can and as soon as possible, the work of transforming the American economy has already begun,” said Frank Stevenson, Supervising Air Quality Specialist with the Department of Environmental Management. “Thanks to progress at the local and state level, as well as within some federal agencies, the nation has begun to experience a real shift in how we produce and use energy.”

“Rhode Island has already demonstrated its commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy as means to reduced fossil fuel dependence, cleaner air, and a more sustainable economy,” said Stephan Wollenburg, Green Energy Program Director with People’s Power & Light. “This report lays out a path for the state to build upon its demonstrated leadership, and provide a model for other states looking to address their greenhouse gas emissions.”