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What is the Resilient Rhode Island Act?
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What is the Resilient Rhode Island Act?

What is the Resilient Rhode Island Act, how can it help the state of Rhode Island reduce emissions and aid in the transition towards sustainability, and ultimately allow the state to fight against climate change?
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2023-04-07T00:00:00.000Z
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States like New York and California have been known to be upping their climate action game over the past few years, but what about Rhode Island?

Home to only around 1 million, Rhode Island is a small state in the Northeast that isn’t talked about as often as New York – but the Resilient Rhode Island Act shows that despite the state’s small size, they are determined to elicit real change.

What is the Resilient Rhode Island Act, how can it help to reduce emissions and fight climate change?

What is the Resilient Rhode Island Act?

The Resilient Rhode Island Act, passed in 2014, was created to further develop the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council – which consists of thirteen members with various levels of expertise who work together to draft and propose the most economically viable ways to protect and further develop Rhode Island’s workforce, converse natural resources and biodiversity, seek renewable sources of energy and plan the transition to clean energy, and ensure that education, housing, and health policies do not suffer as a result of climate change. 

More specifically, the Resilient Rhode Island Act provides the state with greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, which are created by an advisory board in combination with scientific research done by other development boards to ensure the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council has insinuated the most appropriate and ambitious emission reduction targets for the state possible. 

The Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council holds responsibility for overseeing the creation and tracking of the emission reduction goals set forth under the Resilient Rhode Island Act, and is expected to significantly contribute to reduced emissions across the state to help Rhode Island achieve their reduction targets.

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What are the main goals of the Resilient Rhode Island Act?

The Resilient Rhode Island Act has several climate ambition goals, which are the responsibility of the  Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council, or the EC4 for short, as they are the body in charge with creating, proposing, and tracking the climate legislation that could help Rhode Island to successfully reduce emissions.

👉 In summary, some of the most important goals of the Resilient Rhode Island Act include creating a viable plan that could allow the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below the levels found in 1990 from 10% by 2020, 45% by 2035, and a whopping 80% by 2050. 

However, the Resilient Rhode Island Act has set several goals in place in addition to reducing emissions , including the implementation of other morals and values – such as seeking to ensure that all of the efforts to reduce emissions and implement sustainability are accessible across the state. 

The Resilient Rhode Island Act has set concrete emission reduction targets to be achieved each decade with the hopes of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 – a similar goal and sentiment expressed by other countries around the world, including the Biden administration in their climate efforts. 

In addition to encouraging the state to reduce emissions, the Resilient Rhode Island Act is also determined to understand the effects of climate change on Rhode Island itself: such as the impact that comes with rising sea levels and changes in shorelines. These are important factors to consider for Rhode Island, given it is nicknamed “The Ocean State” due to the fact that despite its small size of 1,214 square miles – the state has a shoreline that spans for 400 miles. In fact, Rhode Island remains cognizant of the environmental impact to be had given their long coastal line with the Office for Coastal Management – which seeks to protect Rhode Islander’s who are employed in conjunction with the state’s coastline.

sunset coast in rhode island

👉 Therefore, it can be said that the Resilient Rhode Island Act also seeks to protect the economy of the state of Rhode Island in addition to encouraging emission reductions and greater sustainability. 

The Resilient Rhode Island Act also seeks to understand the impact of natural disasters, how food supply could be compromised, the health and housing effects of climate change, and how air pollution could impact child growth and development. Once the Resilient Rhode Island Act has identified these areas which are of the greatest cause of concern for road island, a goal is set to help convey the importance of avoiding and rectifying these negative effects to businesses, educational institutions, and industries across Rhode Island.

👉 Other goals of the Resilient Rhode Island Act are to develop more sustainable communities resilient to the effects of climate change, improve resources for funding emission reduction and sustainable planning, support the governor of Rhode Island in leading the ecological transition, and partner with other states in New England to develop mutually beneficial goals to collectively achieve climate change mitigation.

How does the Resilient Rhode Island Act work?

The Resilient Rhode Island Act functions primarily through the actions of the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council, where their roles as members of the EC4 include:

  • Assisting the council to understand the climate data and subsequent emission reduction plans, as well as how to best implement the plans and mitigation strategies necessary to prove successful in reducing emissions and implementing sustainability; 
  • Helping the council to discover the most available scientific and technical information available regarding climate change;
  • Raising awareness in communities across Rhode Island in how to become more resilient to the negative effects of climate change in addition to supporting them in their climate journey towards sustainability and reduced emissions;
  • Communicating information or serving as a “messenger” or “link” between local communities in Rhode Island and the council for the state;
  • Assisting the council in maintaining their own goals towards transparency as well as ensuring all of their climate council obligations are met or exceeded;
  • Regularly reporting to the Rhode Island state council;
  • Preparing annual reports to delineate the current state of public awareness and implementation of climate change strategies across the state of Rhode Island, including how effective the emission reduction strategies have been from various perspectives such as the government and local communities in Rhode Island and how effective the EC4 council themselves have been in helping Rhode Island to implement and achieve these climate goals;
  • Seeking public and private partnerships that can help to propel Rhode Island closer to their emission reduction goals;
  • Treating people with environmental justice and DEI policies to ensure fair development and implementation of emission reduction policies across Rhode Island

👉 It is important to note that on December 31, 2025 and not a day later, in addition to every semi-decade following this date, the Resilient Rhode Island Act is required to submit an updated emission reduction plan to both the governor of Rhode Island and the general assembly. This plan is expected to include future plans, programs, or emissions reduction strategies to be implemented whilst keeping Rhode Island’s economy in mind and allotting for public commentary. 

Clearly, the Resilient Rhode Island Act has high expectations from the EC4 council who runs the Resilient Rhode Island Act to reduce emissions and implement sustainability across the state. Has the current model of the Resilient Rhode Island Act proven successful in helping the state transition towards a cleaner economy and greater sustainability?

Newport Beach Rhode Island house on water

Has the Resilient Rhode Island Act been successful?

Despite the rigorous demands of the Resilient Rhode Island Act, it is important to remember that this Rhode Island regulation was implemented back in 2014, and therefore – has faced criticism on its ability and effectiveness to properly reduce emissions almost a decade after its implementation. 

In fact, Rhode Island is already one step ahead of the game – as Rhode Island passed a new piece of climate legislation two years ago in March 2021 to update the mechanisms depicted in the Resilient Rhode Island Act as an attempt to help the state meet their emission reduction targets and withstand a more durable transition towards a clean energy economy. This new climate bill for Rhode Island, called the Act On Climate 2021 bill, was officially approved and signed by Governor Dan McKee on April 14th, 2021. 

👉 The Act on Climate 2021 bill serves as an update to the Resilient Rhode Island Act, which will implement more ambitious climate targets across the state and stress the importance of transitioning to the use of clean energy and technology.

Rhode Island has faced criticism for being one of the two states out of the six New England states to not have implemented stronger climate legislation in more recent years, as other New England states like Vermont and Massachusetts have passed the Global Warming Solutions Act. However, the Act On Climate 2021 bill is what helped Rhode Island redeem themselves following the Resilient Rhode Island Act – as this updated Rhode Island climate bill allows the council and government to set emission reduction targets in conjunction with science based data. Similar to the Resilient Rhode Island Act, it is expected to be updated every five years in order to remain relevant with the current developments regarding climate change.

The Resilient Rhode Island Act had previously set a goal to reduce emissions from 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and while the state achieved the goal having emitted around 10.04 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019, or almost 20% below 1990 levels – it is clear that more can be done to reduce emissions across the state of Rhode Island.

Newport Beach Rhode Island

What else could Rhode Island do to fight climate change?

Rhode Island had already taken a step in the right direction to reduce emissions further with the Act on Climate 2021 bill, but there is still more that the state could do to mitigate climate change. For instance, Rhode Island should seek to implement more sustainable policies in school, as Rhode Island is home to many families with children – it could prove an effective way to reduce emissions. In addition to this, Rhode Island should make an effort to develop more clean energy jobs and keep switching to the use of renewable energy by installing more solar panels and wind turbines. In this sense, swaying residents of Rhode Island to opt for electric vehicles over gasoline powered cars could prove effective across the state as well – as public transportation in Rhode Island isn’t well established. In fact, many people living in Rhode Island have already caught on to this idea – with the use of electric cars in Rhode Island having increased to 867% from 2015, early on in the Resilient Rhode Island Act, to October 2021.

Rhode Island shouldn’t forget one of its most sensitive areas prone to the negative effects of climate change – its beaches. Plastic waste can contribute to excessive greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s important that Rhode Island establishes policies to protect their beaches, such as the well-known and upscale Newport Beach. 

Ultimately, with sea level rise and how Rhode Island is situated alongside the Atlantic Ocean – the state remains vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The Resilient Rhode Island Act may have served the state well a decade ago, but the effects of climate change have outgrown the previous efforts made by the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council – proving that if Rhode Island wants to fight climate change, stronger measures like the Act on Climate 2021 bill will be necessary moving forward.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about the Resilient Rhode Island Act has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

The Resilient Rhode Island Act is just one of the many environmental policies and pieces of climate legislation being developed and proposed in order to combat climate change. Check out our legislation tracker here to see which rules your company has to adhere to.

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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