North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Oct. 29 issued Executive Order No. 80, which affirms the state’s commitment to reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 2005 levels by 2025, as well as for an increase in registered, zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in North Carolina to at least 80,000, and a 40% reduction in energy consumption in state-owned buildings.
The Oct. 29 statement from Cooper’s office also noted that the order creates the North Carolina Climate Change Interagency Council (council), which includes a representative from every state cabinet agency, to make changes happen. In addition, the statement noted, the order directs:
- The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to develop a North Carolina Clean Energy Plan (clean energy plan) to encourage the use of clean energy, including wind, solar, energy efficiency, and energy storage
- The North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop a plan to accelerate the use of ZEVs across state government. Cabinet agencies will prioritize the use of ZEVs for trips that can reasonably be made with a ZEV
- DEQ to help cabinet agencies improve their energy efficiency and publicly report utility consumption
- The North Carolina Department of Commerce (DOC) to support the expansion of clean energy businesses and service providers, clean technology investment, and companies with a commitment to procuring renewable energy
- All cabinet agencies to integrate climate mitigation and resiliency planning into their policies, programs, and operations
The executive order noted that the effects of more frequent and intense hurricanes, flooding, extreme temperatures, droughts, saltwater intrusion, and beach erosion have already impacted, and will continue to impact, the state’s economy. The executive order also noted that in order to maintain economic growth and development, as well as to provide responsible environmental stewardship, the state “must build resilient communities and develop strategies to mitigate and prepare for climate-related impacts in North Carolina.”
The executive order directs the state to support the 2015 Paris Agreement goals and honor the state’s commitments to the United States Climate Alliance.
The executive order also noted that the council’s duties include:
- Recommending new and updated goals and actions to meaningfully address climate change
- Developing, implementing, and evaluating programs and activities that support statewide climate mitigation and adaptation practices
- Establishing workgroups, as appropriate, to assist the council in its duties
- Considering stakeholder input when developing recommendations, programs, and other actions and activities
- Scheduling, monitoring, and providing input on the preparation and development of the plans and assessments required by the executive order
- Reviewing and submitting to the governor the plans and assessments required by the executive order
Of the clean energy plan, the executive order said that the plan should foster and encourage the use of clean energy resources in the public and private sectors, as well as the integration of those resources to facilitate the development of a modern and resilient electric grid.
DEQ is to collaborate with businesses, industries, power providers, technology developers, North Carolina residents, local governments, and other interested stakeholders to increase the utilization of clean energy technologies, energy efficiency measures, and clean transportation solutions, the executive order said. DEQ is to complete the clean energy plan for the council to submit to the governor by Oct. 1, 2019.
The executive order also said that the ZEV Plan – which is designed to increase the number of registered ZEVs in North Carolina to at least 80,000 by 2025 – is to help establish interstate and intrastate ZEV corridors, coordinate and increase the installation of ZEV infrastructure, as well as incorporate, where appropriate, additional best practices for increasing ZEV adoption. DOT is to complete the ZEV Plan for the council to submit to the governor by Oct. 1, 2019.
The executive order added that the DOC and other cabinet agencies are to take actions supporting the expansion of clean energy businesses and service providers, clean technology investment, and companies with a commitment to procuring renewable energy.
DOC is to develop clean energy and clean transportation workforce assessments for the council to submit to the governor by Oct. 1, 2019, the executive order said, noting that those assessments are to evaluate the current and projected workforce demands in the state’s clean energy and clean transportation sectors, assess the skills and education required for employment in those sectors, as well as recommend actions to help North Carolina residents develop such skills and education.
Among other things, the executive order said that cabinet agencies are to integrate climate adaptation and resiliency planning into their policies, programs, and operations to support communities and sectors of the economy that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as well as to enhance the agencies’ ability to protect human life and health, property, natural and built infrastructure, cultural resources, as well as other public and private assets of value to North Carolina residents.
DEQ, with the support of cabinet agencies and informed by stakeholder engagement, is to prepare a North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resiliency Plan for the council to submit to the governor by March 1, 2020, the executive order said.