RI Officials Release First-Ever Statewide Plan For Responding To Climate Change

Jul 3, 2018

A new statewide strategy to prepare Rhode Island for climate change was released Monday. 

The report called "Resilient Rhody" brings together in one place work on climate change that has been done by different agencies and environmental groups; and based off of that information, the report lists 61 recommended actions. 

"One of the challenges and vulnerabilities inside of communities is increasing urban heat, and that really hits the low-income the hardest, the folks who are unable to afford air conditioning," Shaun O’Rourke, Rhode Island's Chief Resiliency Officer and direcotr of stormwater and resiliency at the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, said.   

The resiliency plan recommends expanding Rhode Island’s Low Income Home Assistance Program to help eligible residents pay for their AC.

O’Rourke added it’s important for the state to realize climate change threatens more than just the coastline.  

"Many of the inland areas are seeing increased flooding and over topping of dams, as well as flooding of our rivers and waterways, but that has not been studied nearly as much," he said. 

The report calls for better data and better coordination with officials from inland municipalities. 

"Resilient Rhody" also includes recommendations for preparing the state's water, power and transportation systems, coastal wetlands, beaches and improving building designs for future risks.  

O’Rourke said his team will start assigning the recommended actions to the appropriate state agencies before developing a timeline for implementation.