Report: Joining Regional Initiative Could Help NC Meet Climate Goals
Monday, July 25, 2022
North Carolina wants to reduce carbon emissions from its power plants by 70% by 2030, but experts say the state is currently not on track to meet its goals.
A new analysis found joining a group of states working collectively to cap emissions could help, while also increasing renewable-energy development.
Alex DeGolia, director of state legislative and regulatory affairs for U.S. Climate for the Environmental Defense Fund, explained the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative puts a price on carbon pollution.
"So when a state joins, it works with the existing members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to decide on a sort of statewide cap," DeGolia explained.
He noted North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality is considering participation. The analysis showed a combined approach of joining the initiative, plus the passage of bipartisan energy legislation, could curb emissions three times greater than anticipated by 2030.
DeGolia pointed out every few months, participating states allow utilities to purchase allowances to emit carbon over the cap. Ultimately, the program is aimed at incentivizing the power sector to reduce pollution.
"It started in 2008 and has been a really, really effective program at reducing power-plant emissions across that region," DeGolia observed.
William Barber III, CEO and founder of the environmental investment company Rural Beacon Initiative, said communities across the state depend on policymakers to take action on climate, as more residents struggle with extreme weather linked to a rapidly accelerating climate crisis.
"There's a real responsibility here to act and act in a way that tries to mitigate the worst effects of that," Barber asserted.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund report, from 2015 through 2017, participating states saved more than $1 billion by reducing imports of fossil fuels, and created more than 1,400 new jobs in the energy-efficiency sector.
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