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NC Resilence Plan Focuses on Climate Justice

North Carolina communities will continue to grapple with increased flooding in a changing climate. (Adobe Stock)
North Carolina communities will continue to grapple with increased flooding in a changing climate. (Adobe Stock)
June 11, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. -- In the wake of a slew of disastrous hurricanes over the past few years, North Carolina now has joined Florida, New Jersey and New York in creating a statewide climate risk and resilience plan.

Will McDow, director of resilient landscapes for the Environmental Defense Fund, says the plan makes clear North Carolinians can expect worse floods, more thunderstorms, continued sea-level rise, and more extreme heat.

McDow says the plan, which has a chapter dedicated to environmental justice, outlines factors that make low-income and minority communities more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

"That chapter makes clear that not all of our communities are facing these challenges equally," he points out. "The communities that have the highest impact often have the least resources to deal with them, or to plan and prepare."

The report notes that existing inequities in environmental health exposures will continue to be exacerbated by climate change, and says older adults, children, low-income earners, communities of color and veterans are disproportionately harmed.

McDow says frontline communities tend to experience multiple environmental impacts of a changing climate at the same time.

"So a community might have increased air pollution, increased truck traffic, and also be in a low-lying area more likely to be flooded," he explains.

McDow says local governments need climate-resilience planning boards to help ensure communities are taking the right steps.

"Thinking through how we can increase local capacity for communities to understand their vulnerabilities, prepare workable solutions that work for their local area, and begin to implement those, is going to be a critical piece going forward."

In addition to funneling more money into climate science and resilience projects, the report's authors say North Carolina will need to boost its emergency management and public services, as those sectors will need more resources to address the impacts of future extreme weather events.

Reporting by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the Park Foundation.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC