Rhode Island is vulnerable to increasing temperatures, floods and droughts, and coastal flooding
Rhode Island’s climate has already warmed by about three degrees Fahrenheit in the last century. Increasing temperatures are causing spring to arrive earlier, bringing more precipitation and more frequent storms as well as drier and hotter summers. Rising sea levels threaten the stability of housing and infrastructure projects, as well as increasing the likelihood for flooding which can harm ecosystems, disrupt farming, and pose an increasing risk to human health.
- Increasing temperatures: Extreme heat will increase in the Northeast region. Currently a temperate region in the summer, the region can expect to see an increase of “extremely hot” days. On average, there are only 2.6 days a year over 95 degrees Fahrenheit now, but that number could increase to by 5-16 additional days by midcentury and jump to 15-57 additional days by the end of the century. Increasingly hot summers will have negative impacts on health, mortality, and labor productivity.
- Floods and droughts: Annual precipitation in the has increased about 10 percent from 1895 to 2011, and precipitation from extremely heavy storms has increased 70 percent since 1958. Increasing variability in precipitation will likely cause more flooding in the winter and spring, and more drought in the summer and fall.
- Rising sea level: Since the 1800s about one-third of wetlands and other coastal ecosystems in New England have been destroyed by human activity, reducing an effective and important line of defense against coastal flooding.
- Adaptation: In 2014, Rhode Island established the Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014 which calls for “new capacities, purposes, goals, indicators, and reporting requirements for climate change mitigation and adaptation in public agencies.”
Rhode Island residents support clean energy and climate regulations
- According to the Yale Map Project on Climate Change Communication 71% of Rhode Island residents recognize that global warming is happening. The study finds that 77% of residents support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant and 84% support funding research into renewable energy sources.
Rhode Island: home to the first offshore wind farm in the US
- Built in 2016, Rhode Island is home to the first offshore wind farm in the nation. The five turbines in the Block Island Wind Farm generate over 125,000 annual megawatt hours for RI.
- Rhode Island ranked 36th in the country in installed solar capacity with 4.5 MW installed in 2015. There are more than 30 companies throughout the solar industry value chain in RI.
- Rhode Island is one of only two states in the US without coal-fired power plants.
- Natural gas fueled 95% of Rhode Island’s electricity generation in 2015.
- Rhode Island is the second-lowest emitter of CO2 across all sectors among all states.
- Rhode Island established a renewable energy standard (RES) in 2004 and increased the goal in 2016. The current RES requires retail electricity providers to provide 38.5% of their sales in 2035 from renewable sources.