Rep. Lauren H. Carson and Rep. Terri Cortvriend announce the formation of the Aquidneck Island Climate Caucus, a community group to give voice to the importance of mitigating and adapting for the earth’s changing climate.

The group held a meeting Monday, attended by 40 concerned constituents from all three island communities plus Jamestown and Bristol, as well as Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) and Rep. Susan R. Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth).

“Climate change has always been an important issue to us as legislators, and we have been increasingly hearing from our constituents about their concerns about our changing climate and the truly devastating impact it is having both around the world and right here on Aquidneck Island. It isn’t some nebulous threat to us; the impact is already here on the island, where our homes, businesses and historic sites are being damaged by more frequent and deeper flooding. People want action, and this group will help us create a unified voice to call for it and help shape the response,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport).

Said Representative Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown), “While the enormity of the issue can seem overwhelming, it’s very encouraging that so many of our constituents are so motivated to be part of the solution. There’s real solidarity among the people of our community, who can see the impacts of climate change all around us, in understanding that we must effect significant change. What we heard from people at this meeting was that they want to have an impact on policy, and they want more options for what they can personally do to reduce their own carbon footprint. We’re looking forward to this group becoming a force for real change locally and in our state.”

The group determined the subjects of three workshops it will hold in the spring. The first, scheduled March 9 from 6pm to 8pm at the Portsmouth Free Public Library, 2658 East Main Road, will focus on sea rise and resiliency strategies from other states and communities, and will feature Coastal Resources Management Council Executive Director Grover Fugate as guest speaker. It is open to the public. Two workshops to be scheduled at later dates will focus on Rhode Island’s carbon footprint and what the average person can do to reduce his or her own carbon footprint. The group is also interested in proposing legislation this year concerning climate change.

Representatives Carson and Cortvriend said they are grateful and feel galvanized by the energy of the caucus, and that they are looking forward to working with their Aquidneck Island neighbors on this important issue.