A Southern Governor’s Climate and Clean Energy Plan Aims for Zero Emissions

The state’s Republican-controlled legislature remains an obstacle to big changes, so the administration is looking for work-arounds and short-term wins.

In the past three years, North Carolina has been through two major hurricanes and the remnants of a third and seen devastating flooding. Gov. Roy Cooper is proposing a clean energy plan for the state to reduce its climate impact. (Credit: Office of the Governor) Click to Enlarge.

What a difference three years can make in the politics of climate change in North Carolina, a state that not long ago took a sharp lurch to the right.

After replacing a Republican who questioned whether climate change was caused by human activities, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has testified before Congress on North Carolina’s sizable climate challenges and unveiled a draft clean energy plan designed to put the state on a path toward eliminating carbon emissions from the power sector by mid-century.

His effort to grapple with global warming faces the cold reality of needing support in North Carolina’s Republican legislature, however.  It’s a significant challenge that has clean-energy advocates and state officials looking for work-arounds and short-term wins.  This week, for example, state regulators put pressure on North Carolina’s largest utility to weigh the governor’s greenhouse gas reduction goals in its future energy plans.

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