New Poll: North Carolinians Support Joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to Tackle Carbon Pollution and Invest in Communities
(Raleigh, N.C. — July 8, 2021) As North Carolina weighs joining a regional climate program, a new poll by EDF Action, the advocacy partner of the Environmental Defense Fund, finds that the majority of North Carolinians support action to cut carbon emissions and raise investments through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
The poll assesses the opinions of North Carolinians on climate impacts, leadership on climate, as well as participation in RGGI, a collaboration of 11 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states working together to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.
- 71% of North Carolina voters believe that climate impacts, like increasingly erratic weather and stronger storms, will cost the state of North Carolina in the next 10 years. This includes 68% of Independents and 53% of Republicans, along with 89% of Democrats.
- North Carolina voters support Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80 and Clean Energy Plan, which set electricity sector targets to reduce carbon pollution by 70% by 2030, by 14-points and a majority (51-37). Voters also support a leader who takes bold action on climate by 9-points (49-40), including 75% of Democrats and 54% of Independents.
- 54% of North Carolinians support the state joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, with a plurality (40%) strongly supporting joining RGGI.
- The opportunity to invest proceeds raised from RGGI into North Carolina communities garnered strong support, with investments to reduce the risk of severe flooding by restoring wetlands and floodplains (67%) earning the most support, followed by reducing electric bill costs for low-income families (66%), and making sure homes use less energy (62%).
Explore the polling memo here.
“North Carolinians across the political spectrum understand that climate impacts, like severe hurricanes, are already taking a toll on the economy,” said David Kelly, EDF Action Director of North Carolina Political Affairs. “This poll underscores that there is a strong appetite for North Carolina leaders to implement smart policies that tackle carbon pollution and accelerate the transition to a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous energy future.
“Joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) stands out as a proven, flexible and cost-effective approach to reduce climate pollution from North Carolina’s power plants. RGGI isn’t just good policy, it’s also politically popular — this poll demonstrates that North Carolinians are ready to see meaningful climate action in our state and support the RGGI approach.”
Climate impacts, such as extreme heat and inland flooding, will impose significant costs on North Carolina’s residents and its economy in the coming decades without urgent action to curb climate-warming pollution. A report by RTI International, commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund, illustrates the projected costs on eight major sectors of the state’s economy within the next 20 to 30 years, including residential and commercial properties and public health and safety. Last month, a poll by EDF Action revealed that the majority of North Carolinians view hurricanes and flooding as a problem in the U.S. with three in four of respondents saying the costs of storm clean up and recovery has increased.
In 2018, Gov Roy Cooper set goals to reduce carbon pollution from the electricity sector 70% below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. These are critical goals to achieve, as electricity use is the largest contributor of carbon pollution in North Carolina and will be essential for reducing pollution in other sectors such as buildings and transportation as they increasingly rely on electricity.
Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the UNC Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics released a study in March 2021 analyzing options to achieve the state’s climate goals, including an analysis on joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The study, which reflects the input of over 40 stakeholders, demonstrates that RGGI is one of the most promising and most cost-effective policies for reducing power sector carbon pollution in line with North Carolina’s targets.
Since the program began in 2009, RGGI has helped cut carbon pollution from power plants in half and has been consistent with strong and sustainable economic growth. So far, states participating in RGGI have returned over $3 billion in proceeds, which have been invested in a variety of local programs, such as improving energy efficiency and supporting the transition to clean energy.