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RI - Rhode Island Act On Climate bill calls for 'real and enforceable' goals

Legislation to establish enforceable climate emission reduction targets for Rhode Island haven’t fared well in recent years.

September 19, 2018

They are typically backed by a broad coalition of progressive groups and hearings are packed with supporters. But the bills rarely make it out of committee.

Although the urgency to address the climate crisis is as pressing as ever, the prospects this year are uncertain for House bill H5445 and Senate bill S0078.

On the national level, there’s a climate-friendly president who rejoined the Paris Agreement and embraced a goal of a 100% “clean energy” economy with net-zero emissions by 2050. Spending bills have already been passed to fund climate initiatives, so federal money should be flowing to states to address the crisis.

But, according to the sponsor of the House bill, Rep. Lauren Carson, D-Newport, Rhode Island has no plan to address the climate crisis while states with plans will most likely receive federal climate money.

“We have to be ready,” Carson said during the Feb. 26 hearing for the Act On Climate 2021 legislation. “I don’t want to see Rhode Island last in the region again.”

The bill moves the state’s current emissions reduction target from 80% by 2050 to 2040. The 45% reduction goal is moved from 2035 to 2030, and net-zero emissions must be achieved by 2050. Similar to last year’s bill of the same name, this year’s version also puts the responsibility on state agencies to enact plans established by the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council. The committee of state agency heads must also update those plans every five years.

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