Local action on climate accord is smart move for R.I. to make

Despite President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, there is much that can be done on the local level to combat the ravages of climate change. And thankfully, Gov. Gina M. Raimondo has come to the same conclusion, which led her to sign an executive order reaffirming the Ocean State’s commitment to the landmark environmental agreement.

Some who believe renewables are getting unfair government help contend that the fossil-fuel industry stands on its own without subsidies, and therefore should not have to compete with the darling of climate scientists.

But that perspective misses the billions of dollars that the oil industry continues to receive in tax breaks. And the coal industry has for years been allowed to befoul the environment where it is mined.

Renewable energy on the other hand, for which the fuel is free and clean, is seeing continuing declines in its cost structure, so much so, that the incentives once granted to get the industry off the ground are now no longer needed, even when in comparison with cheap coal.

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At the same time, as the renewable-energy sector grows, so too does the number of jobs it creates. The recently released 2017 Rhode Island Clean Energy Jobs Report said that clean energy jobs – including those supporting the sector, such as finance and legal services – have grown 66 percent since 2014, and in 2016 included 15,300 in Rhode Island.

From a certain vantage point, then, sticking with a clean energy agenda sounds like a win-win-win: clean air, contained sea-level rise, as well as more jobs.