Sunday is the first anniversary of the signing of Rhode Island’s landmark Act on Climate, and the Aquidneck Island Climate Caucus, led by Rep. Lauren H. Carson and Rep. Terri Cortvriend, will mark the occasion with a discussion on decarbonizing buildings.
The virtual event, titled “How can Rhode Island set a path for decarbonizing our buildings?,” is scheduled for Sunday, April 10, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. It will feature Matt Rusteika, director of market transformation for the Building Decarbonization Coalition, and Hank Webster, senior policy analyst for the Acadia Center.
The meeting will be held remotely on Zoom and registration is required. Click here to register. Registrants will be sent the Zoom link on the day of the meeting.
According to a press release sent on behalf of the Climate Caucus, Rhode Island’s Act on Climate has made the state a national leader on climate. The law (2021-H 5445A), sponsored by Representative Carson and cosponsored by Representative Cortvriend, created an enforceable commitment by Rhode Island to reduce all climate emissions from transportation, buildings, heating and electricity in the state to net zero by 2050.
It will be impossible to meet the law’s net-zero target without attending to buildings, which represent 30% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions today, according to the press release. Rusteika and Webster will describe efforts that other states have undertaken to address this problem, including regulatory approaches to phasing out natural gas and policies that contain the cost of the transition.
“Reducing emissions from buildings is a significant challenge for Rhode Island. In the last few days, we’ve learned that emissions overall actually increased 8.2 percent from 2017 to 2018, the most recent year for which we have data, and that home heating was the sector that experienced that greatest increase – a whopping 24.4 percent that year. Some of the reason was an especially cold winter, but there will always be cold winters. What we need is to encourage the adoption of clean, sustainable heating and cooling methods in public, commercial, residential and industrial buildings, but how do we go about that? It’s not a transition that can feasibly happen overnight, particularly in the case of private homes. We expect to have a very enlightening conversation about this Sunday,” said Representative Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport).
Said Representative Cortvriend (D-Dist. 72, Portsmouth, Middletown), “While the data from 2018 shows how much progress must be made to meet our emissions goals, the technology exists to do it, and there are ways to make it affordable to switch to that technology. Besides reducing emissions, there are many economic benefits to greening our buildings that make it worthwhile to owners. We need to get to work on creating policies that incentivize and encourage this transition.”