Report explores climate change

From the Brown Daily Herald:

By Caleb Miller
Contributing Writer

Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Rhode Island Climate Change Commission, created by the Climate Risk Reduction Act of 2010, issued its first progress report to the state House of Representatives Nov. 13. The report is the first of what will be annual updates made by the Commission, headed by Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, and Rep. Christopher Blazejewski, D-Providence.

The account detailed Rhode Island's current measures to combat climate change and identified vulnerabilities in the state's defenses. Blazejewski described the report's mission as two-pronged — protecting the state from the effects of current climate change and stopping future climate change, he said.

The report comprised components from each of the Commission's subcommittees — Key Infrastructure and the Built Environment, Natural Resources and Habitat and Human Health and Welfare.

The commission's piece did not, however, suggest specific measures to reach its aims. "As a preliminary report, it is much more concerned with explaining the structure of the commission and summarizing the concerns of the different subcommittees," Miller said. "It hasn't gone as far as making specific proposals yet."
The report comes in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which Miller said incited a public call for legislative action. "There's a lot of reaction from concern of climate change," he said. "If there's going to be a legislative component to what people think, that legislation must be proposed in a timely manner."
Though this was just an initial report, Blazejewski said the commission plans to make specific proposals in the near future, possibly as early as the end of this legislative year.

"It sets up a structure for the community and the experts to chime in on priorities going forward," Miller said, elaborating on the report's ability to spawn future measures. He added that combating steps need not be legislative.

In the past, Rhode Island's environmentally-conscious nature has made it a leading state in the race to halt further climate change. Past legislation has tackled subjects including renewable energy requirements and permeable parking surfaces, Miller said. Because of this, both congressmen said that they believe measures will be quickly accepted and implemented when the House begins to examine specific policies stemming from the report.

"Rhode Islanders are attuned to the need to protect our resources," Blazejewski said. "I anticipate the recommendations will be well-received."