Sunday, October 2, 2022

Report: Greenhouse gas emissions rising in RI – ecoRI News

PROVIDENCE – Greenhouse gas emissions in Rhode Island are going the wrong way, and the state has already failed its first act on climate mandates.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recently released its Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, which combines federal and state data for 2018 — the most recent data available — to give a snapshot of how much carbon the state emits into the atmosphere. Issuing in.

The report shows that greenhouse gas emissions increased by 8.2% statewide in 2018, with nearly a million metric tons of additional carbon dioxide released into the air compared to the previous year. The increase puts Rhode Island up 1.8% from its 1990 baseline emissions. The Act on Climate mandates the state to reduce emissions by 10 percent below that baseline by 2020.

But reducing emissions statewide is a slow ship. Emissions data received from federal agencies has a three-year lag, meaning that if Rhode Island fails its first act on climate reduction targets in 2020, state officials won’t learn about it or have to change course until 2023. will be able

And that time delay is the rub. When the Climate Act passed, two recently released reports showed the state’s emissions were below 1990 levels. In fact, in 2016, the state had already passed its first act on climate targets, with emissions down 11.7% from 1990 levels. But since then the state has gone in the wrong direction.

“There was really this strong message of increased urgency following the Act on Climate, and this data reinforces that message,” said Terry Gray, DEM’s acting director.

According to DEM’s analysis, emissions from vehicles, electricity consumption, heating and industry all saw an increase between 2017 and 2018. Officials insisted this was part of a regional trend; Connecticut reported a 2.7% increase in its 2018 emissions, and Massachusetts reported a 0.68% increase in its 2018 emissions.

While the Act on Climate sets a mandate for the state, it did not provide a way forward for reducing emissions. Additional efforts to reduce emissions through legislation have since stalled. The Transportation and Climate Initiative died last year after two of the four jurisdictions — Massachusetts and Connecticut — announced that the compact would not be approved in their respective states. Rhode Island officials have no alternative plan to reduce transportation emissions.

In the wake of the new figures, environmental groups are calling on the General Assembly to pass several environmental bills that have been filed.

“Passing a 100% renewable energy standard by 2030, the Offshore Wind Law and the Electric Transportation Act will reverse this trend and help us meet our Act on Climate Goals,” said Kai Salem, policy coordinator for the Green Energy Consumers Alliance.

The legislature is debating potential legislation that could increase the amount of money going toward renewable energy projects. The 100% renewable energy standard would require companies to offset all electricity sold to Rhode Island consumers by 2030. The additional bills would increase the state’s offshore wind capacity to 600 MW. But so far nothing has reached the desk of Governor Dan Mackie.

“The inventory underscores the need for this year’s statewide climate plan, which includes bold and dramatic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in every region,” said Hank Webster, Rhode Island director at the Acadia Center.

DEM officials said they expect the impact of the pandemic to be reflected in the 2020 figures next year.

“We have to take it from year to year with the information,” Gray said.

A detailed analysis of the state’s 2019 greenhouse gas inventory is expected to be released in December. The state is also expected to publish a 2022 update to its greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan by the end of this year.

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