Resilient Rhode Island Act
The Resilient Rhode Island Act (2014) seeks to make the people of Rhode Island and the state’s economy more resilient in the face of the unpredictable effects of climate change. The Rhode Island Student Climate Coalition (RISCC) was integral in helping pass and implement the Act.
Due to climate change, Rhode Island is threatened by future sea level rise, an increased urban heat island effect, and flooding, among other impacts. To mitigate future effects of climate change, the Resilient RI Act creates goals for adopting more renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency, and reducing emissions. Adaptation strategies put forward by the Act include private-public partnerships, expanding riparian buffers, adjusting “enterprise zones” away from high-risk areas, and providing tax relief to businesses damaged by natural disasters. Adaptation strategies have long-term benefits such as damage protection and coastal preservation, but will also require significant statewide financial support. By investing in these mitigation and adaptation strategies, Rhode Island took a big step to increase its climate resilience.
Following Brown’s failure to divest from coal, students in RISCC teamed up with Brown environmental studies professor Timmons Roberts and State Representative Arthur Handy. Using university financial support approved by President Christina Paxson, Brown students were hired as interns and consultants to help Rep. Handy fashion what would become the Resilient Rhode Island Act. Students also helped pass the Act by organizing a Rally for Climate Resilience, forums, and phone banking events.