North Carolina's climate change fight

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report urging immediate action to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius in an effort to avoid environmental harm.

This has some wondering what North Carolina's role is in combating climate change.

A 2010 report by the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission’s Science Panel on Coastal Hazards predicted sea levels could rise 39 inches by 2100 if North Carolina's temperatures continue to increase at the rate they are now.

Two years later, the N.C. General Assembly passed House Bill 819, which banned using sea level rise rates and predictions when forming coastal policies.

The bill passed 68-46, with 63 Republicans and five Democrats voting in favor of the bill. NC-20, a nonprofit with a focus on coastal economic development, lobbied for the bill.

Lisa Sorg, an environmental reporter for NC Policy Watch, said these kinds of laws are consistent with the state legislature’s environmental policy track record.

“Consistently, over the past maybe eight, nine years, the legislature under conservative control has cut funding to the Department of Environmental Quality, which has hampered its ability to enforce, to monitor, to basically do its full job of protecting human health and the environment, so there’s the funding aspect,” she said.

She noted the legislature has passed similar policies.

“There’s also been the general relaxing and rollback of regulations regarding everything from landfills, to how we measure sea level rise, to air quality,” she said.

Sorg said many of these rollbacks have the biggest impact in low-income communities or communities of color, where air pollutants tend to cluster and residents don’t always have the resources to lead legal battles or protests. Read full article.