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Hurricane Prompts North Carolina to Set 40% Emissions Reduction Target by 2025

Prompted by the killer hurricane the temporarily turned his state into an archipelago, Governor Roy Cooper (D) signed an executive order Monday requiring North Carolina to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% below 2005 levels by 2025.

Cooper prefaced his announcement by saying that powerful hurricanes and other consequences of climate change are forcing government to respond,” the Charlotte Observer reports. “He noted that Hurricane Florence, which soaked the state last month, was the third 500-year flooding event in the state in the past 19 years and the second in the past 23 months.”

“It is important for the states to take action,” Cooper said, during an outdoor ceremony at a solar farm in Cary, NC. “We’re going to intentionally work toward the goal.”

Since various energy and environmental policies now in place had not yet taken effect as of the 2005 baseline year, the Charlotte Observer says the state is already about one-quarter of the way to its 2025 goal. Emissions fell from 152.14 to 133.76 megatonnes between 2005 and 2017, according to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

To build on those reductions, Cooper’s executive order calls on state agencies to “set an example by taking such steps as recruiting cleantech companies and adding zero-emission vehicles to the state transportation fleet,” the Observer states. It also mandates a cross-agency state climate change committee to work with DEQ to complete a renewable energy transition plan by next October.

While Cooper’s announcement contained few specific goals, it “includes a target of having at least 80,000 electric cars and other zero-emission vehicles in the state by 2025 and developing electric vehicle corridors and other infrastructure,” the paper adds. “The goals also include reducing energy consumption in state government office buildings for each cabinet level agency, with goals due next year.”

“These goals are not crazy environmental let’s-ban-stuff goals,” said Stephen Kalland, executive director of the Clean Tech Center at North Carolina State University. “What was impressive to me was the scope of the announcement, how holistic it is.”