Last week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order to protect North Carolinians’ public health and environment, and grow the state’s economy by taking action on climate change. The executive order seeks to boost the state’s commitment to developing clean energy, bringing with it better education and workforce development as well as clean energy jobs.
The Governor’s order takes responsibility for the state’s global warming pollution and seeks to fulfill its duty to meet global goals of pollution reduction outlined in the 2015 Paris (Climate) Agreement.
About the executive order, Governor Cooper said, “A strong clean energy economy combats climate change while creating good jobs and a healthy environment. With historic storms lashing our state, we must combat climate change, make our state more resilient and lessen the impact of future natural disasters.”
Specifically, the order commits the state to striving to achieve the following by 2025:
1. reducing its carbon pollution to 40% below 2005 levels;
2. increasing the number of registered, zero-emission vehicles (i.e. electric vehicles) in North Carolina to at least 80,000;
3. reducing energy consumption in state-owned buildings by 40%, compared to 2002-03 levels.
Additionally, the order:
- directs all cabinet agencies to evaluate the impacts of climate change on their programs and operations and integrate climate mitigation and adaptation efforts accordingly;
- creates a new interagency climate change council to help meet climate protection and clean energy goals effectively;
- directs the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to develop by October 1, 2019 a North Carolina Clean Energy Plan to encourage the use of clean energy, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, and energy storage, and support a modern resilient electric grid;
- directs the NC Department of Transportation to develop by October 1, 2019 a North Carolina ZEV plan to increase the number of registered ZEVs in the state to 80,000 by 2025;
- directs the NC Department of Commerce to support clean energy industry businesses and businesses that buy clean energy to power their operations as well as to undertake a clean energy economy workforce assessment study to help North Carolinians prepare for clean energy economy jobs;
- instructs cabinet agencies to prioritize purchasing and using ZEVs for agency business, and directs the NC Department of Administration to prepare by October 1 2019, a North Carolina Motor Fleet ZEV Plan to help the agencies with ZEV prioritization.
This executive order is a huge step in the right direction and will help North Carolinians reap the benefits of the clean energy economy of the 21st century. We applaud Governor Cooper’s leadership and will support efforts that help the Old North State meet these worthy goals.