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Rosselló signs sweeping P.R. Climate Change Act

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed the Puerto Rico Climate Change Mitigation, Adaption and Resiliency Act, which establishes clear goals, metrics and deadlines to comply and address climate change.

“Climate change is real, and it is the biggest threat to our way of life. This is the issue of our generation — the time for discussion is over, now it’s the time for action,” said Rosselló.

“It is extremely important for Puerto Rico to have clear parameters to combat climate change. This law reflects my administration’s commitment to climate resiliency and aims to prepare our island for the changes that come,” he said.

“The effects climate change will have on Puerto Rico are dramatic and deeply concerning. Because of our geographic location we are more vulnerable and will have to endure more drastic changes in our climate that will inevitably impact our agriculture, health, flora and fauna, as well as the availability of fresh drinking water,” Rosselló added.

The new law instructs the government and its instrumentalities to adopt measures aimed at transitioning the current energy model to one powered solely by renewable or alternative sources, effectively banning coal and other damaging fossil fuels by 2050.

“Our commitment is to transition to 100% renewable sources by 2050, achieving 40% by 2025, essentially reducing 50% carbon emissions in the next five years,” the governor said.

The new law promotes better use of electricity with the intention of reducing consumption at least one percent a year until 2030. To battle deforestation, the government will plant 500,000 native trees within five years. The law also calls for a multisectoral recycling effort to be established with the goal of reducing solid waste on the island.

Senate Bill 773, sponsored by Sen. Larry Seilhamer, was drafted in collaboration with the Climate Change Mitigation Multisectoral Working Group, an expert panel Rosselló created through Executive Order 2018-045.

The new law instructs the government to take measures to:

  • Keep temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius (°C) above pre-industrial levels;
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a real, permanent, quantifiable way, by 50% within the next five (5) years;
  • Reduce the general consumption of energy use by at least one (1) percent per year, starting in the year 2020, until reaching by 2030 a reduction of ten percent (10%) based on population density;
  • Transition to 100% renewable sources by 2050, achieving 40% by 2025, reducing 50% carbon emissions in the next five years;
  • Prohibit the granting of new contracts and permits, or extension of current contracts, that establish or promote the continued use of coal-based power generation;
  • Reduce the current energy consumption of public facilities;
  • Promote the use of efficient energy, water and ventilation systems or those designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in any new construction;
  • Promote the use of hybrid vehicles or those that work with alternative sources of fuel by 2028;
  • Progressive reduction of public waste deposited in Puerto Rico landfills by 60% by 2030;
  • Instruct the Puerto Rico Department of Housing to develop programs to encourage use and installation of environmentally-friendly energy equipment;
  • Prioritize the dredging of strategic reservoirs to increase water availability during times of drought;
  • Reduce the population’s vulnerability to water scarcity through the implementation of water conservation programs in residences, businesses and industries, the harvesting rainwater and the protection of aquifers and watersheds; and,
  • Plant 500,000 native trees within the next five years.

“We must step up our efforts to combat the most imminent threat of our generation. I call upon all jurisdictions to have plans in place and to join Puerto Rico as we become more resilient and adapt our infrastructure, economy and society to the changes that lie ahead,” Rosselló said.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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