Climate challenge meeting's focus


Michael Regan (right), the state secretary for the Department of Environmental Quality, attends an economic forum at Museum of the Albemarle, Monday. Regan is sitting beside Ronald Penny, state secretary of the Department of Revenue.


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Sunday, February 10, 2019

State officials tasked with fighting climate change will meet Feb. 19 in Elizabeth City, where they'll talk about the environmental challenges facing coastal communities, and what to do about them.

The Climate Change Interagency Council will meet from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Museum of the Albemarle, according to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. The council, chaired by DEQ Secretary Michael Regan, will hear presentations on conservation, coastal management, and planning. The council will also hear public comments from 1:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.; each speaker is limited to two minutes, according to the meeting agenda.

Much of the morning will be for a panel discussion, whose participants include: Bill Crowell, of the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary Partnership: Daniel Brinn, of Hyde County's Soil and Water Conservation District; Brian Boutin, of The Nature Conservancy; Holly White, a Nags Head planner; and Tancred Miller, of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management.

The meeting will also include a greenhouse gas inventory report and progress reports from DEQ and other departments, including commerce, transportation, and administration.

This is the second meeting for the council, whose first meeting was in Raleigh in December. Formed by executive order, Gov. Roy Cooper has tasked the council in part with furthering the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

That's in opposition to President Donald Trump announcing in 2017 that the United States would withdrawal from the agreement, in which countries made non-binding commitments to try to combat climate change. Trump argues the agreement's targets for reducing greenhouse gases and otherwise mitigating climate change would be harmful to the economy.

Cooper disagrees, and recently told a congressional committee that climate change is helping drive worsening hurricanes and cause other harm to North Carolina. He's also warned urgent action is needed to reduce climate change and prepare communities for its impacts.

To that end, Cooper's executive order has called for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent less than 2005 levels, plus increasing the number of “zero-emission” vehicles statewide and reducing energy consumption in state buildings.

How the state would accomplish those goals is unclear; a spokeswoman for DEQ didn't respond to an email asking what specific measures the administration will promote. According to published reports, the council plans several more meetings around the state this year.