Puerto Rico has announced a pledge that outlines measures the government expects to take in order to combat climate change and create a more environmentally sustainable island. The Puerto Rico Pledge for Climate Change, unveiled by Governor Ricardo Rosselló, includes a vow to reduce the island’s carbon footprint by 50% within the next five years, the most ambitious agenda of an US state government.
The island is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to its geographical location. “Climate change is not only really, it is the most important issue of our generation and it’s our responsibility to tackle it,” Rosselló says. He calls the Pledge for Climate Change the “most ambitious resiliency project in the US.”
In addition to reducing the island’s carbon footprint by 50% in the next five years, commitments stated in the pledge include: planting 500,000 trees along critical coastal lands over the next five years; increasing investments on resilience; creating a stronger construction code and transitioning people into safer housing; creating a multi-sectoral group to monitor and update necessary policy changes; supporting science and research into areas like erosion, conservation, water management and pollution; improving school curriculums to educate on areas like mitigation, adaptation, resilience and response; and intervening immediately to ensure the long-term sustainability of beaches, reefs, and aquifers.
The pledge also emphasizes the need to transform the island’s antiquated power grid into a modern, resilient energy network, with a long-term goal of depending only on renewable sources by year 2050. Earlier this month, regulators in Puerto Rico introduced a clean energy bill that would put the island on the path to achieving that goal.
The bill calls for 20% renewable electricity by 2025, 50% by 2040, and 100% by 2050. California recently passed a similar bill, with a goal of 100% renewables by 2045. Hawaii passed a similar law in 2015.