In the fall of 2001, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), the RI State Energy Office (SEO), and the Governor's office convened the Rhode Island Greenhouse Gas Stakeholder Project in response to growing international agreement that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are warming the planet at a rapid rate. Reducing greenhouse gases can help reduce global warming — a major concern for Rhode Islanders because of its potential adverse impacts such as flooding in coastal areas, saltwater contamination of drinking water, extreme weather events, and damage to local crops.
In July 2002, GHG stakeholders completed Phase 1 of the project with the publication of the Rhode Island Greenhouse Gas Action Plan. The Action Plan outlines programs and policies the state could undertake to meet its commitment under the New England Governors' and Eastern Canadian Provincial Premiers' (NEG/ECPP) Climate Change Action Plan, August 2001. The NEG/ECPP agreement aims to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, to at least 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and up to 85 percent below 1990 levels over the long term.