This month, the D.C. Circuit Court will hear oral arguments about the Clean Power Plan and decide whether to move forward and curb global warming emissions from coal-fired power plants or continue to delay efforts to tackle climate change. Meanwhile, the effects of a changing climate are presenting a clear and serious threat, and the truth is that even though the case is tied up in court, states have all the power to act on climate right now.
Here in North Carolina, rising sea levels are threatening our world-class beaches, and the ever-mounting risk of more frequent and severe storms, like hurricanes, endangers lives. This summer, we’re experiencing the effects of a warming planet right here in the Triangle: RDU International Airport recorded above-average temperatures for two out of every three summer days. From mountains to sea, our beautiful and lively state has a lot to lose when it comes to climate change.
If we are going to stave off the worst effects of global warming, we need swift action to cut harmful global warming pollutants and transition to a clean, renewable energy future. Last year, thousands of leaders, from mayors to presidents, came together during the 2015 Paris Climate Summit to confront climate change on a global scale. In fact, more than 1,000 city and local leaders representing 600 million people across the globe gathered to highlight the climate commitments that cities and communities have made. Mayors and city officials highlighted the important role that local governments play in solving the climate crisis.
Here in Raleigh we have an incredible opportunity to join the ranks of these climate leaders. The city already has a lot to be proud of when it comes to environmental action, such as a 4-STAR Community Rating for national excellence in sustainability. Now, we need to build on that status to be a true climate leader. Cities like Charlotte have taken similar steps such as signing on to the Compact of Mayors climate agreement and are in the process of setting specific and measurable targets for city-wide greenhouse gas emissions. We need Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and other city officials to make bold commitments for Raleigh – and call on state leaders to do the same for North Carolina.
Global warming is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and in order to tackle the problem we need to address it head on. As the capital of our state, Raleigh has an opportunity to lead the state in climate action. The fate of the Clean Power Plan may be held up in court for now, but we don’t have to wait. Climate champions like McFarlane can chart the course for North Carolina’s clean energy future.
Rachel Weber is a climate and energy organizer for Environment North Carolina. Robert I. Bruck, Ph.D., is dean for science at Louisburg College.