As the effective implementation of the Act on Climate law is one of his highest priorities, Governor Dan McKee today expressed confidence that the state’s Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) will move with the boldness, seriousness, and urgency that the new law demands. The EC4 — which assesses, integrates, and coordinates climate change efforts throughout state agencies to reduce emissions, strengthen the resilience of communities, and prepare for the effects of climate change — will meet Thursday, Sept. 30, at 1 PM at the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). The meeting will also be streamed via Zoom.
Enacted by the Rhode Island General Assembly and signed into law by Governor McKee in April, the Act on Climate strengthens the state’s climate-emission reduction goals to align them with current scientific projections. It instructs the state to develop a plan to reduce all climate emissions from transportation, buildings and heating, and electricity used economywide to 10 percent below 1990 levels this year, 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2040, and net-zero by 2050. The law sets mandates, not goals, and makes the mandates enforceable in Rhode Island Superior Court.
“The Act on Climate is historic legislation that I am proud to have signed. The law requires bold actions and commitments across all of state government to put Rhode Island on a more sustainable pathway to a future of net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases,” said Governor McKee. “Much needs to be done and I am looking forward to the EC4 spurring real actions to be implemented in the very near future.”
Governor McKee announced that DEM Acting Director Terry Gray will serve as the EC4’s chairperson, with State Energy Commissioner Nicholas S. Ucci serving as vice chairperson. The Governor has directed the EC4 to increase the frequency of its meetings from quarterly to every other month and to hold the meetings at different locations throughout Rhode Island to allow more people to participate in these critical discussions.
“The EC4’s work took on a new level of importance when Governor McKee signed the Act on Climate in the spring and I’m excited to get going,” said Acting Director Gray. “Effectively implementing the law is a top-tier priority for all of us and we have a lot of complicated work to do.”
The new law requires the EC4 to update its plan for carbon reduction every five years and include in it measures to provide for an equitable transition that addresses environmental injustices and public health inequities. “We must emphasize environmental justice,” said McKee. “Our approaches must be fair and equitable so that all Rhode Islanders share in the benefits of our actions and are protected from threats both now and on our horizon.”
The Governor has instructed all state agencies to think hard about what they need to do to help meet the mandates of the Act on Climate. He has also previously endorsed the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI)/Transportation Emissions and Mobile (TEAM) Community Act, stating: “Without a strong commitment and plan to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, which contributes 36 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions in Rhode Island, the state will have serious difficulties meeting the Act on Climate’s reduction mandates.”
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