"As Governor, my job is first and foremost to keep Rhode Islanders safe," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "While we've worked hard to ensure that our state is leading the nation's efforts to prevent climate change, we have to address a new climate reality. This Executive Order will ensure that Rhode Island is prepared to keep both our citizens and our 400 miles of coastline safe as we grapple with the effects of climate change."
"The Trump Administration is walking away from the issue of climate change. That means at the local and state level, we need to step up and I am pleased to see Rhode Island taking action," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.
"I applaud Governor Raimondo for taking steps to position Rhode Island as a national leader in tackling climate change," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "We need to meet ambitious goals if we're going to protect our economy and way of life from the most severe effects of climate change. Establishing the Rhode Island Action Plan to Stand Up to Climate Change will help us do just that."
Rhode Island is a national leader in the fight against climate change. Governor Raimondo has set bold goals for Rhode Island's clean energy and environmental efforts, including goals to produce ten times as much clean energy and create at least 20,000 clean energy jobs by 2020. In August, the Governor endorsed RGGI, a bipartisan, regional agreement to drastically reduce carbon emissions. After President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, Governor Raimondo signed an Executive Order committing Rhode Island to the principles of the agreement.
"Our state is on the front lines of sea level rise and increased storm surges, and we must do everything we can to be prepared for these threats," said Congressman Jim Langevin, Energy Task Force Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. "I commend Governor Raimondo for her leadership in appointing Rhode Island's first Chief Resiliency Officer to engage community stakeholders and develop a comprehensive climate preparedness strategy."
"Climate change presents one of the most serious threats to the future health, well-being, and economic security of Rhode Islanders," said Congressman David Cicilline. "I am committed to supporting investments in green technologies that will help protect our state and put Rhode Islanders to work."
The Executive Order directs the following:
The establishment of a Chief Resiliency Officer to drive climate resiliency efforts across the state, both in government and in collaboration with business, academic and nonprofit partners;
The Chief Resiliency Officer and the Rhode Island Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council shall develop a statewide Action Plan to Stand Up to Climate Change and submit the plan to the Governor by July 1, 2018;
The Plan shall recommend key actions to make Rhode Island's residents, economy, infrastructure, health system, and natural resources more resilient to the impacts of climate change;
The Plan shall identify and prioritize actions to enhance the state's resiliency to climate change; and
The Chief Resiliency Officer, in collaboration with the Council, shall manage and coordinate the State's resiliency implementation efforts amongst federal, state, and local levels of government.
"The global climate crisis is a threat to all Rhode Islanders," said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. "We cannot wait any longer to protect our residents, our economy and our natural treasurers. I am proud to stand with so many committed leaders and stakeholders who are stepping-up on climate resiliency for Rhode Island."
Today's Executive Order builds on Rhode Island's work toward preventing climate change, but will focus primarily on critical investments to ensure that Rhode Island is prepared for its effects. In coming years, the effects of climate change will impact almost every aspect of life in Rhode Island, and as such, we need to be prepared to adapt.
"Through collaboration and strong partnerships such as highlighted in today's Executive Order, Rhode Island will continue to implement strategies and stress the importance of action to help communities prepare for the many effects of a changing climate," said Janet Coit, Director of the Department of Environmental Management and Chair of the Rhode Island Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council.
For more information about Rhode Island's efforts to fight climate change, please visit www.climatechange.ri.gov.