State & Local Decarbonization Policies for the South

Climate change is the greatest problem of the 21st century. It is a problem not for future generations, but for today. We have already warmed the planet by 1 °C. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the global community has just ten years to cut emissions by about half and thirty years to reach carbon neutral to have a reasonable chance at limiting warming to 1.5 ºC (IPCC, 2018). Even with the dire need for immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to protect the economy, public health, and the planet, the federal government has failed to take decisive action. Even more troubling, the Trump administration has weakened or repealed climate regulations at least 130 times since taking office (Sabin Center, 2020).

This regulatory rollback is occurring even though the vast majority of Americans support government action to address climate change, including the majority of young Republicans (YPCCC, 2019; Pew, 2019). Across the country, climate impacts are already present. From the deadly wildfires in California to the rapidly disappearing lands of Louisiana, communities are just starting to come to terms with their new reality: life in the era of climate change. More recently, Southern states experienced more than 120 tornadoes on Easter Sunday, April 12, and April 13, 2020 (NWS, 2020). According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, as the planet continues to warm, sea-level rise will put tens of millions of Americans at risk (GCRP, 2018). These damages will be concentrated in the South, which is particularly vulnerable due to geographical disadvantages and high levels of economic insecurity, which put the population at undue risk.