The Civic Alliance for a Cooler Rhode Island (CACRI) hosted a workshop for candidates and candidate staff on the economic and social justice issues associated with climate change at the Warwick Public Library on Sandy Lane on Saturday. CACRI held the event with the intention of enabling candidates to take a “bold stance on climate issues” and to establish “a clear plan for climate policy can help your campaign stand out.” With the information provided, candidates would find themselves better prepared to talk meaningfully to voters and constituents about environmental issues.

CACRI notes that polling data suggests that carbon pricing, greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, local food, solar siting, and the need for environmental justice are important to Rhode Island voters.

Rachel Calabro, a Public Health Promotion Specialist from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), was the first speaker. Though I unfortunately don’t have the video from her presentation, Calabro directed me to this manual, Climate Change and Your Health: A Guide for Rhode Islanders, upon which her presentation was based.

GrowSmart‘s John Flaherty spoke about the Complete Streets ordinance that passed in Central Falls, and the positive impact making streets green with trees as well as walk-able and bike-able. He also spoke on the need for more investment in public transportation.

Kat Burnham, Energy Programs Manager at People’s Power & Light spoke on how to do renewables right. Strategic development of renewables, that forefront predictability, consistency and fairness statewide. There are equity issues as well. Marginalized communities lack access to the benefits of renewables.

Cristina Cabrera, executive director of the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, made the case that climate change is a social justice issue.

Finally, Frank Carini, editor at ecoRI News, talked about the influence of dark money on Rhode Island politics, and highlighted the efforts of groups like the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity and the Gaspee Project that lobby against renewable energy and efforts to stop climate change.

An extended question and answer period followed.

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