NC, PA advancing climate initiatives

October 10, 2019
By: Ellen Marrison

Last week Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive order directing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), joining nine other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states in a market-based collaboration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and combat climate change. And in North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper’s Climate Change Interagency Council presented four key plans related to clean energy and climate change, the result of the governor’s executive order signed last year to reaffirm the state’s commitment to fighting climate change and transition the state to a clean energy economy.

In joining the RGGI, Wolf called climate change “the most critical environmental threat confronting the world, and power generation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.” States that participate in the RGGI set a cap on total CO2 emissions from electric power generators in their states and implement a regional cap-and-trade program. To show compliance with the cap, power plants purchase a credit or allowance of each ton of CO2 they emit during a quarterly auction, with the proceeds from the auctions allocated back to the participating states in proportion to the amount of carbon subject to regulation in each state. RGGI reported in 2017 that participating states reduced power sector CO2 pollution over 45 percent since 2005.

North Carolina also continues to lead in its efforts to address climate change. The four plans presented to the governor include the Clean Energy Plan, which recommends policies and actions based on 160 stakeholders’ input. The plan sets a goal to reduce electric power sector greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and attain carbon neutrality by 2050. It is intended to be a “living document” with revisions every three to five years. Other plans include a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Plan, Motor Fleet ZEV Plan and the Clean Energy and Clean Transportation Workforce Assessment from the Department of Commerce.

North Carolina, Pennsylvaniapolicy, climate change