The Rhode Island AFL-CIO, along with allies in the labor movement, the environmental movement, and elected officials, launched a campaign today announcing a bold new initiative to transition Rhode Island towards a net-zero emission economy by the year 2050.

The initiative is called Climate Jobs Rhode Island and will be co-chaired by Priscilla De La Cruz, the Rhode Island Director of Green Energy Consumers Alliance, and Patrick Crowley, Secretary-Treasurer of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO. The coalition is committed to working together to make Rhode Island a national leader in the development of a 21st Century economy grounded in the principles of economic, environmental, racial and social justice.

“The Rhode Island AFL-CIO is proud to stand with our friends and allies in the Rhode Island Building Trades and the Environmental movement as we work together to build a green economy in Rhode Island,” stated George Nee, President of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO in a statement. “The labor movement believes working people don’t just need a seat at the table, but many seats, speaking for all of those fighting for a more just Rhode Island. The fight against exploitation, injustice, and racism can only be won when workers have more power. We are proud to add the voices of our 80,000 members in Rhode Island to this effort.” 

“We can create thousands of good paying jobs in Rhode Island by transitioning to a green and resilient economy,” said Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner in a statement. “My office has delivered millions of dollars through the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank to help municipalities and businesses build out renewable energy projects and become more climate resilient, and I’m pleased to join in announcing today’s joint initiative to create new green jobs for Rhode Islanders.”

State Senator Dawn Euer, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture, stated, “As our country reels from the negative health and economic impacts of the pandemic, it is imperative that RI puts forward a bold vision to rebuild our state, invest in our future, and put people back to work. Rhode Island is the home of the nation’s first domestic offshore wind farm and we are a leader in energy efficiency programs. Let’s recognize those strengths and focus on opportunities in the green economy that will allow us to create a sustainable, just future we deserve and know is possible.”

At the press conference, coalition members delivered a presentation outlining the details of their proposal to establish a Just Transition to a Green Economy in Rhode Island. The coalition’s core principles include:

  • Establishing science-based mandatory and enforceable emissions limits leading to economy-wide 100% net-zero emissions by 2050, with significant, measurable progress before 2030. 
  • Establishing state-wide, cost-effective investment in community resiliency (e.g., protecting wastewater treatment plants from rising sea levels) to protect against the effects of climate change and equitably share costs, benefits, and risks. 
  • Maximizing family sustaining job growth through the creation and maintenance of good, well-paying union jobs and apprenticeship programs, and creating defined career pathways for current workers in the fuel industry. 
  • Prioritizing solutions developed by underserved communities overburdened by pollution and following the lead of front-line communities (e.g. low-income communities, senior Rhode Islanders, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) disproportionately affected by environmental injustice in the transition to a Green Economy.

Coalition members include:

  • The Rhode Island AFL-CIO
  • The Rhode Island  Building & Construction Trades Council
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Green Energy Consumers Alliance
  • The Audubon Society of Rhode Island
  • SEIU District 1199NE
  • The Acadia Center
  • Clean Water Action
  • NEARI
  • Rhode Island Environmental Education Association
  • RICOSH
  • General Treasurer Seth Magaziner
  • State Senator Dawn Euer, Chairperson, Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture
  • State Senator Meghan Kallman, Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture
  • State Representative David Bennett, Chairperson, House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources

To learn more about the coalition, visit www.ClimateJobsRI.org

Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.