Pricing Carbon in Rhode Island

Pricing Carbon in Rhode Island

Rhode Island is committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. In order to meet such an ambitious goal, it will take a wholesale transition of our economy, from one run on fossil fuels to one run on clean energy. Rhode Island’s Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) estimates that 97% of the electricity on the grid will need to be produced renewably, that more than 80% of our cars and trucks will need to be electric, and that heating our buildings will have to be done with electricity. Such monumental changes are only possible with policies that fund these cleaner technologies and that make the use of dirty fuels more expensive.

Putting a strong economy-wide price on carbon can accomplish both of these goals. Sierra Club RI is part of the Energize RI Coalition, which is working to enact such a price in RI alongside regional partners in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont. If passed, the law would start by imposing a $15/ton of CO2 on all fossil fuels being imported into the state, and the price would rise by $5 each subsequent year. This graduating fee structure would create a strong ongoing incentive for residential, commercial, and industrial energy users to invest in energy efficiency and switch to renewable energy sources as fossil fuel energy becomes more and more expensive. 70% of the proceeds of the fee would be returned to businesses and individuals through rebate checks, and the remaining 30% would be used to fund programs that reduce carbon emissions, allowing for investments in energy efficiency, clean energy, and public transportation.

An economic modeling study of the Energize RI Act has shown that this carbon pricing policy would not only result in achieving 70% emissions reductions that the state is committed to reaching in 2035, but that it would also create more than 4000 local jobs. Without any fossil fuels in RI to exploit, we have absolutely nothing to lose. What are we waiting for?!

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carbon pricing