PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is announcing today that total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Rhode Island grew by 8.18% between 2017 and 2018, according to an analysis of the state's 2018 GHG inventory conducted by DEM air quality specialists. This uptick carries the state's emissions 1.8% over the 1990 baseline, well short of the 10% emissions reduction mandated by 2020 in the Act on Climate. In absolute terms, the state produced 11.74 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMTCO2e) in 2017 and 12.70 MMTCO2e in 2018, resulting in the 8.18% change.
Over the year from 2017 to 2018, GHG emissions increased in most major sectors: transportation, electricity consumption, residential heating, industry, commercial heating, and waste. In the longer 1990 to 2018 timeframe, however, only the electricity consumption and industrial sectors generated increases. Neighboring states also have experienced increases in GHG emissions since 2017, with Connecticut reporting a 2.7% increase in its 2018 inventory and Massachusetts reporting a 0.68% increase in its 2018 inventory.
"With higher temperatures, rising sea levels, heavier rainfalls, more frequent and intense storms, and clear impacts on our forestlands and growing seasons, Rhode Island already is seeing tangible results of climate change," said Governor Dan McKee. "This GHG emissions inventory draws a straight line to its causes. I renew my call to all state agencies to lead by example and deliver the urgent remedies mandated by the Act on Climate."
"There is no question that the data we are releasing today is a call to action for Rhode Island to do better, to fight climate change," said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. "The governor's budget proposes more than $150 million in investments to do just that, following through on the urgency conveyed in the Act on Climate passed one year ago. The Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) will be continuing important conversations with Rhode Islanders across the state on how to craft effective and equitable solutions to lower our emissions and the agencies in the EC4 will be implementing actions to make those reductions happen."
The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) is working closely with stakeholders and partner agencies across the administration to reduce GHG emissions. Legislation has been introduced calling for up to 600 MW of additional offshore wind, which has the potential to meet 30% of Rhode Island's estimated 2030 electricity demand. The administration also is launching a rebate program to help Rhode Islanders switch to electric vehicles and has proposed a $37 million investment of federal funding to support the adoption of energy-efficient electric heat pumps.
Like many other states that regularly preform economy-wide GHG emissions inventories, Rhode Island relies heavily on the US Environmental Protection Agency's State Inventory Tool (SIT). Although EPA updates the SIT annually, there is a three-year lag between the end of the year being measured and publishing the GHG inventory in which to collect, compile, and verify the data. EPA uploaded 2019 data to the SIT earlier this year. DEM has begun analyzing it, with a full 2019 inventory expected to be released by the end of this year.
Governor McKee's FY2023 budget and ARPA spending plan proposes more than $150 million to fund a series of proposals that will not only reduce harmful greenhouse gasses and build more resilient communities, but also reinvigorate the economy by creating good paying jobs. The Governor's investments include $60 million to improve infrastructure at the Port of Davisville to help expand the development of offshore wind projects, $35 million toward improving the South Quay Marine Terminal in East Providence also to support the offshore wind industry, $37 million toward the creation of an Electric Heat Pump Incentive Program to be run by OER, and $23 million in federal and state spending to expand RI's network of electric vehicle charging stations through a joint incentive program managed by OER and the RI Department of Transportation. The Governor also has proposed $6 million in funding for the EC4, which is the first time funding has been directed to the Council for critical work on climate change. The proposals will have no impact on state general revenues.
For more information on the state's efforts to combat climate change and to find ways to participate, please visit www.climatechange.ri.gov.