Leaders across the region step up on climate action

Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina recently recommitted the state’s capital to continued climate change action. (© Sarah Ellis/The State)

A growing list of hundreds of localities, states, businesses, and universities across the country are responding to President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate accord by recommitting to the international agreement to reduce the amounts of temperature-raising carbon dioxide pollution.

In the South, officials from every state in our region, along with university heads and CEOs, are signing on to the WeAreStillIn pledge and “joining forces for the first time to declare that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement.” 

The tangible effects of climate change—the reason the Paris Agreement exists in the first place—are most visible along our coastal Southern states. Just 50 years ago, Charleston averaged 14 days of “blue sky” or “sunny day” flooding a year. Now it’s 38 days. In three decades flooding is expected 180 days annually. That’s half the year.

Norfolk has repeatedly made national news for the number of days salt water invades the city. Several studies have shown that Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest navy base, is in danger from rising water, as is Virginia’s spaceport at Wallops Island.

Like many cities, Norfolk and Charleston are dealing with the very real impacts of more flooded homes and streets, power outages, and school closings. But the impacts of climate change are felt well beyond these areas.

As states and localities move forward on necessary climate actions, the most important areas within their control are promoting cleaner energy, smarter land use and development decisions, and cleaner transportation options such as transit and rail. These steps are essential to solving our carbon pollution problem.


Washington Post op-ed: What states can do on climate change (even though we really need the feds)

New York Times op-ed: States and cities compensate for Mr. Trump’s climate stupidity

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