Environment Council of Rhode Island

...building an ecologically healthy future in a sustainable economy

Gubernatorial Forum to Discuss Climate Change, Apr 24th

Rhode Island Gubernatorial Candidates To Air Views On Climate Change

April 24th Forum at Brown University Provides a Chance to Address Future Priorities

The candidates in Rhode Island’s 2014 gubernatorial race have been invited to participate in an April forum on why climate change should be a top priority for state action.

The “Climate Change Colloquy” will be held on Thursday, April 24th at Brown University’s List Art Building, Room 120, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. It is being co-sponsored by ECRI and ecoRI News, the main environmental news source for Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut. It is free and open to the public.

The program will consist of two educational presentations and an opportunity for each candidate to briefly lay out their views on how their administration, if elected, would respond to the future challenge of climate change. Two key questions being asked by ECRI and ecoRI News are:

  • What role does the office of governor play in responding to the threats of climate change and capitalizing on the opportunities that are presented?
  • If you were the next governor of Rhode Island, what priority would you give to responding to those threats and opportunities?

“Climate change is the hot-button issue in Rhode Island, and we want to allow the candidates to air their views in a non-adversarial forum so the public knows what their response would be if they were in office,” said Jamie Rhodes, president of ECRI and director of Clean Water Action. "Coastal erosion and flooding have already resulted in significant costs to individual homeowners and taxpayers in general. No one believes that these impacts will lessen during the next Governor's term."

Frank Carini, co-founder and executive director of ecoRI News, who will serve as moderator of the event said, “Climate change is not just an environmental issue. It has and will continue to impact the economy, public health, infrastructure and every other aspect of Rhode Islanders’ everyday lives.

The state’s citizens and businesses are already feeling the impacts of climate change, and Rhode Island, with 420 miles of coastline, is especially vulnerable to climate change elements such as sea level rise. In recent years, increased flooding of river and coastal communities, rapid erosion of beaches, greater intensity of storms, and more extreme heat during summer months have affected everyone. How the state can transition to more resilient communities while providing an economic boost at the state and local level is a priority.

The candidates were invited to participate on February 28. To date, Democrats General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Clay Pell have agreed to attend. On the Republican side, Ken Block has declined to take part, and word is awaited from Cranston Mayor Alan Fung. Unconfirmed candidates have until April 7 to respond to the invitation.

“Climate change is an issue that simply can’t be ignored,” added ECRI’s Rhodes. “We would be greatly disappointed if all the candidates do not see the critical importance of combatting climate change to help the state’s economy. All Rhode Islanders need to know the candidates' views and possible future actions.”