RALEIGH -- President Joseph Biden released a far-reaching plan Wednesday that outlines the actions his administration will take to tackle climate change both domestically and internationally. With the scientific target squarely in focus -- reaching net zero emissions by 2050 in order to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius -- the new administration laid out elements of a roadmap for the nation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in sectors across society, from agriculture to manufacturing.
Notably, today’s announcement included the creation of a National Climate Task Force, which will bring together 21 federal agencies to work on ambitious domestic pollution reduction goals. The group will be chaired by White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy. The executive orders will also emphasize science in policy-making at federal agencies; recommit the United States to international climate leadership, including hosting a global summit on Earth Day, April 22; and preserve public lands and oceans by pausing oil and gas leases.
The Biden administration's actions are in step with Governor Roy Cooper's statewide Clean Energy Plan, which calls for a 40% reduction in North Carolina’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025.
The impacts of climate change on North Carolina are already severe and predicted to worsen if bold action is not taken. Hurricane Florence cost North Carolina $17 Billion in damages. Hurricane activity in 2019 was 120% greater than the average season, and included Hurricane Dorian, which devastated coastal communities in North Carolina. More than 120,000 North Carolinians live in areas at risk of coastal flooding and that number is expected to grow to over 160,000 by 2050 if we don’t take steps to mitigate our contribution to climate change and in turn the development of stronger and more devastating hurricanes. Between 2007-2016, North Carolina experienced 23 extreme weather events that each caused over $1 billion in economic losses. Extreme weather events have cost North Carolina’s agriculture industry over $1.1 Billion.
North Carolina climate advocates and elected officials issued the following statements:
Drew Ball, Director of Environment North Carolina:
“The science has been clear for decades, climate change is one of the greatest risks to a healthy and safe future for ourselves and future generations,” said Ball. “For Americans who have been tirelessly calling for bold initiatives to preserve a liveable planet, today’s actions by President Biden provide hope. We have never seen interagency coordination on climate quite like the National Climate Task Force but it is exactly the kind of leadership we need to tackle ambitious, science-based climate goals across the executive branch. To reduce the toxic pollution that threatens our planet, dirties our air, contaminates our water and makes us sick, today’s actions must be the first step in a sustained, coordinated and inclusive effort.”
Rep. David Price:
“There’s no question that the health and survival of our planet hinges on the decisions of those in power,” said Congressman Price. “North Carolina is no stranger to the harmful impacts of the climate crisis such as increasingly severe hurricanes, extreme heat, agricultural degradation, and pollution. These disasters disproportionately affect the health, jobs, and quality of life for low-income communities and people of color—exacerbating existing disparities. For this reason, I am pleased that the Biden administration has placed environmental justice at the forefront of its climate efforts.
“I have long advocated for rigorous investment in sustainable infrastructure and scientifically-sound energy policies. President Biden’s executive orders form the building blocks necessary to reverse the Trump administration’s damaging policies, transition to a clean energy economy, and advance the country toward a more sustainable and just future. It is now up to Congress to strengthen and codify these efforts by advancing comprehensive climate solutions that prioritize the communities most impacted.”
Rep. Alma Adams:
“Finally, we have a White House that is elevating the climate crisis and environmental justice to the most senior levels of government,” said Congresswoman Adams. “Low-income communities and communities of color experience the worst impacts of the climate crisis, disproportionately suffering from the economic and health implications of pollution, major weather disasters, drought, and heat waves. Addressing these injustices has been a major focus of my time in office and I am thankful to have partners in the executive branch who are eager to work with Congress to tackle these crises together. ”
By ensuring that all federal agencies prioritize climate justice and the health of vulnerable communities and making major federal investments in disadvantaged communities, President Biden and Vice President Harris are taking major steps towards fulfilling their commitment to make racial justice a central priority in their administration. These historic policies will help our nation address the climate change crisis with the urgency and boldness necessary, while centering equity and justice and the communities most impacted.”
Rep. Deborah Ross:
"Today's executive actions announced by the Biden Administration are a crucial step forward to protect our environment and tackle the climate crisis. I applaud President Biden for taking initiative to reduce pollution, protect our public lands and natural resources, address environmental justice issues, and invest in the transition to a clean energy economy. I remain committed to working with my colleagues to prioritize and combat the climate crisis and grow the clean energy sector in North Carolina and elsewhere. We don't have a minute to waste."