Climate change is here, and it threatens the vitality of our people, culture, and homes. Rhode Island, with 400 miles of coastline, is uniquely vulnerable, and we know the impacts are not limited to coastal locations. There is a real cost to our communities, businesses, natural resources, families, and infrastructure - from drinking water to transportation to healthcare. The impacts are far reaching. Assessing and mitigating our risk and planning for expected changes remain our focus.
Rhode Island continues to be out front nationally in tackling climate challenges. We are constructing the nation’s first offshore wind farm, and as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), we are working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation by over 50% from 2005 levels by 2020. RGGI funds are also supporting growth of Rhode Island’s clean energy economy and helping to bring renewable power within reach for our communities, businesses, and homeowners.
In December 2015, Governor Gina Raimondo issued a Lead by Example (LBE) executive order to increase energy efficiency and use of renewable power across state government. At DEM, we’ve brought renewables to several facilities, including our “green” beach pavilion at Lincoln Woods currently under construction. Nearly 1,000 light fixtures are also being replaced with high-efficiency LEDs; to date, we’ve produced 1.5 million kilowatt hours of clean energy.
Other initiatives underway in Rhode Island:
- We are participating in a multi-state effort to reduce emissions from the transportation sector
- We are promoting zero-emission vehicles and increasing their use in our state fleet
- We are mapping coastal areas to gauge vulnerability to sea-level rise
- We are studying impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, and marshes
- We are evaluating the vulnerability of critical wastewater infrastructure across the state