Friday, February 21, 2014

We applaud Gov. Chafee for establishment of climate change council

Jonathan Stone
Executive Director

VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE

Save The Bay applauds Governor Chafee for issuing an Executive Order establishing the Rhode Island Executive Climate Change Council.

Rhode Island is especially vulnerable to rising seas, increasingly intense storms, and summer heat waves.  Our natural resources – our forests and streams, wonderful state parks, pristine public beaches, amazing wildlife, and our beautiful Narragansett Bay – are threatened by the impacts of a rapidly changing climate.

Around the Bay we are observing deterioration in the health of salt marshes that serve as vital nurseries for fish and bird life.  Beach erosion along the south coast has triggered shortsighted efforts to armor shorelines, depriving the public of access to ocean beaches and accelerate damage to adjacent property.  Flooding is inundating septic systems and storm drains, threatening drinking water and swimming.  Summer heat waves trigger algae blooms that foul the Bay and harm recreational fisheries.

Meanwhile, decisions are being made on a daily basis by state and local government that can have a profound effect on our ability to adapt to climate impacts.  But all too often, these decisions are reactive, short-sighted, and piecemeal. 

State agencies play a central role in guiding public policy and overseeing critical investment decisions that have long-term consequences.  By establishing the Executive Climate Change Council, the Governor is taking an important step forward in integrating and coordinating actions by state agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advance sound public policy that anticipates what lies ahead.

Often the most severe effects of our rapidly changing climate are felt at a local level.  Municipalities bear the brunt of coastal erosion, stream flooding, and storm impacts.  Leadership by state government is essential to ensure resilient and sustainable local communities.

We believe that the Governor’s Executive Order is the right path to improve coordination at the state and local level, and establish forward-looking policies that protect Rhode Island’s human, physical and natural resources.

- Jonathan