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Cooper embraces ‘environmental justice’ with climate change order

By: The Editorial Board

A new executive order from Governor Roy Cooper sets out goals for fighting climate change across the state, through identifying clean energy initiatives, prioritizing environmental injustice, and creating economic opportunities for North Carolinians across the state, especially in underserved communities.

In a ceremony at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, Gov. Cooper signed Executive Order 246

The order marks the latest in a series of clean energy commitments since 2018 that aim at combating climate change. The series includes climate planning to electric vehicles to offshore wind energy.

“For too long, our low- and moderate-income communities, our communities of color, our indigenous communities have been disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change,” Gov. Cooper stated. “With this order, we commit to increase the goals of greenhouse gas reduction, and move more quickly to clean transportation and to curb environmental injustices that affect our most vulnerable communities.”

The order includes:

  • Calls for cutting statewide greenhouse gas emissions 50% from 2005 levels by 2030 and to net-zero by 2050.
  • Sets a goal of getting 1.25 million zero-emissions electric vehicles on state roads by 2030.
  • Requires state cabinet agencies to designate “environmental justice leads” who would oversee environmental justice efforts.
  • Calls on state and local governments, educational institutions and private businesses to consider environmental justice in climate planning and budgeting. 

“Gov. Cooper’s Executive Order No. 246 offers a robust, sensible roadmap for combating climate change that will help steer North Carolina toward a cleaner, carbon-free future,” stated Brian Buzby, executive director, NC Conservation Network. “The order also brings more needed attention to the issue of environmental justice and equity. The voices of impacted and underserved communities deserve to be given weight in the halls of power, and this order is a step in the right direction.”


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