RALEIGH, N.C. — Recovery from the pandemic will likely be the focus of the incoming administration, but environmental experts say actions to address climate change should be included in economic stimulus plans.
Joel Porter, policy manager at Clean Air Carolina, said President-elect Joe Biden could boost clean-energy growth and infrastructure development, as well as declare climate change a national emergency. He said North Carolina already is leading the way.
“We’ve got a very strong clean-energy economy that’s been growing over the course of the last ten years,” Porter said. “And that’s poised to only continue to grow if the right policies are in place,”
He said environmental groups across the state also are encouraging Gov. Roy Cooper to move his commitment to address climate change under Executive Order 80 further into effect.
A 2019 Pew poll found across political party lines, 77% of Americans agree the nation should be developing alternative-energy sources such as wind and solar power, and decrease production of fossil fuels.
Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at UNC Charlotte Brian Magi said policies at the state level will continue to protect air quality for North Carolina residents.
“I think we were excited even before the election began about a lot of the prospects that North Carolina has going forward into the future,” Magi said. “Part of that is leadership at the top levels of the state, providing a pathway for a clean energy future.”
Magi moderated a virtual panel this week looking at how climate change is impacting residents as part of State of the Climate 2020, a special 12-hour online giving day in support of clean air and climate solutions in North Carolina.
Porter said he expects Biden to reverse numerous environmental rollbacks made under the Trump administration. He pointed out many industries support long-term solutions when it comes to environmental policy.
“And we’re talking about really big companies that do a lot for the economy. And at a certain point, companies will want regulatory certainty,” he said. “Regardless of who’s in power, they just want to know that they’re playing by a fixed set of rules so that they don’t have to keep changing the way that they operate every four years.”
He said the Biden administration could further develop the Obama-era Clean Power Plan to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, as well as implement stricter mileage standards and caps on auto emissions for vehicle manufacturers.
Disclosure: Clean Air Carolina contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice.