Coastal flooding from a nontropical low October 2015 at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Photo: NCDOT

NC - North Carolina Will Pay for Climate Inaction: Report

A new report finds that if steps aren’t taken immediately to fight climate change in the state, it will come out of the pockets of North Carolinians over the next 20 to 30 years.

The Environmental Defense Fund commissioned RTI International to look at the short-term financial ramifications if no urgent action is taken to curb climate-warming pollution. The report, “Climate Change in North Carolina: Near-term Impacts on Society and Recommended Actions,” is a 56-page document released Dec. 14 by the independent, nonprofit research and development institute in the Research Triangle Park.

RTI researchers relied on the findings from the North Carolina Climate Science Report, or NCCSR, released in June and updated in September that assesses historical climate trends and potential future climate change in the state under increased greenhouse gas concentrations.

“Looking at the report as a whole, it is alarming to see how the costs of climate change are mounting across North Carolina’s economy — virtually no sector will be untouched,” said David Kelly, EDF North Carolina Political Affairs senior manager. “Farmers are seeing crop impacts from the boomerang of droughts and floods; residents and business owners at the coast are seeing their wallets and properties battered by flooding and hurricanes; hospitals are seeing more emergency room visits from extreme heat, and more. Lately, the effects of climate change have not been subtle.”

George Van Houtven, author of the new climate change report and researcher at RTI International, explained in an interview that numerous human activities release warming gases into the atmosphere, which increase air temperatures globally, leading to climate change.

George Van Houtven

“These activities include the burning of fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas. This warming leads to many hazards for humans including sea level rise, stronger hurricanes and, in some places, more frequent and intense rainstorms. The negative impacts on human health, safety and economic livelihoods will only increase if nothing is done to combat climate change and its hazards,” he said.

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