Right now, on the East Coast, nine states are in the process of deciding the fate of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, pronounced “Reggie”). If you are a skier concerned about the future of our snowy winters, particularly in the rapidly-warming Northeast, you should be paying close attention to these decisions.
Climate change is the greatest threat faced today by snow sports.
Rising temperatures across the globe are causing shorter seasons, unpredictable storms, and troubling predictions for future winters. We need effective tools to quickly combat climate change and protect the future of skiing. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is just such a tool. Implemented in 2009, RGGI is a highly successful cap and trade program entered into by nine northeastern and mid-atlantic states in order to reduce the region’s greenhouse gas emissions. The program establishes a carbon cap and reduces it by 2.5% each year. The revenue from the sales of the carbon allowances are invested in the clean energy economy. In this way, RGGI both reduces carbon emissions in the region and invests capital into clean energy alternatives.
Since its initiation, RGGI has successfully:
Slashed global warming pollution from power plants in HALF
Invested over $2.5 Billion in renewable energy
Created $5.7 Billion in health benefits including preventing 600 premature deaths, 9,000 asthma attacks and 43,000 missed days of work.
Created $3 Billion in economic benefits including creating more than 30,000 job years.
With 2016 reported as the hottest year on record, we need to strengthen and proliferate tools like RGGI and we can’t afford to see them weakened or rolled back.
Why Skiers need to Speak Up:
Among the nine member-states, are Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont - all big ski states, and states where skiers are feeling the impacts of climate change particularly acutely. Folks who ski or board in the Northeast know that the changing climate has caused event cancellations, early closures, and warm winters punctuated by massive destructive storms in recent years. Winters in this region are becoming even more fragile than most, but it’s not clear that all the governors involved have gotten the memo.
At the end of the review period, it will mostly be up to the governors’ offices to decide upon the new terms of the program - where to place the carbon cap and how quickly to reduce it - or to decide whether they wish to withdraw entirely. With the exception of Charlie Baker, governor of Massachusetts, who came out in August in favor of a strong RGGI, most governors are keeping their thoughts on the matter very close to the chest, and the governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, has gone so far as to say he will consider pulling out of the program if other states are considering doing the same.
Skiers, snowboarders and the ski industry are a powerful voice in New Hampshire, and much of the region. Ski industry business and seasonal tourism are important components in the regional economy and we know that clean air and snow-covered mountains are part of what makes this part of the country so special. It’s important that we use our voices to advocate for the resources we value, so that is exactly what Snowriders is doing.
Here’s What We’re Doing to Support and Strengthen RGGI:
Snowriders is working with coalition partner, Environment New Hampshire, to highlight the widely shared benefits of the program and demonstrate its broad popular support throughout New Hampshire and the rest of the region. We are calling on the governors of many of the RGGI states to not only renew the program, but to support doubling RGGI’s strength through 2030 in order to scale back carbon emissions at an adequate rate to effectively combat climate change. On February 22, the coalition released a letter with over 500 organization, elected officials, businesses, health professionals and academics urging governors to double the strength of RGGI through 2030 and address existing loopholes. As the period of review stretches on, we are continuing to work with skiers and snowboarders in the region to demonstrate their support for a more robust RGGI in order to protect the winter resources that we value so highly.
Help support Snowriders’ work on RGGI, and beyond. Join Snowriders today!