Why North Carolina Needs the Inflation Reduction Act Now

Critical climate and clean energy investments will create millions of good-paying jobs, lower energy costs for families, invest in disadvantaged communities and reduce climate pollution. Not only are North Carolinians demanding climate action now, with 75% of registered voters supporting Congressional action on climate change, they are experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change. Last year, flooding from Tropical Storm Fred caused more than $18.7 million worth of damages in the state, demonstrating precisely why Congress must act now and pass the Inflation Reduction Act to secure North Carolina’s future. Here’s why North Carolina needs the climate investments in the Inflation Reduction Act now: 

Voters in North Carolina want solutions to the climate crisis.

Investing in clean energy means jobs for North Carolina.

  • In 2021, North Carolina was home to 103,854 clean energy jobs, including 12,030 jobs in generating renewable electricity, 3,531 jobs in energy storage, 78,018 jobs in energy efficiency, and 8,787 jobs in clean vehicles. 
    • The Department of Energy’s 2022 Energy and Employment Report found that 9,819 North Carolina workers were employed in solar and wind electric generation in 2021. 
  • One report published in 2020 found that even modest federal clean energy stimulus investments could generate 22,510 jobs in North Carolina per year over a five year period. The hypothetical investments in that report were even smaller than those in the Inflation Reduction Act.

North Carolinians are already feeling the impacts of climate change.

  • From 2011 through 2021, North Carolina saw 12 hurricanes and tropical storms that caused a total of $474.7 billion in damages and 694 deaths. In 2021, Tropical Storm Fred caused flooding which led to the death of 2 people, the displacement of 500 families, and more than $18.7 million in damages in North Carolina. 
  • Currently, 122,000 people in North Carolina are at risk of coastal flooding and more than 450,000 people are at risk of inland flooding.
  • The last ten years were the warmest on record for North Carolina, with 2019 marking the hottest year on record. 2020 was the state’s third-hottest year on record, with July 2020 marking the 6th hottest July for the state. This year has already seen a heatwave hit southeastern North Carolina, with Fayetteville tying its daily record high of 100 degrees. 

If we do nothing, it will get worse for communities across the state and cost billions of dollars.

  • By 2050, North Carolina is projected to see a 50% increase in severity of widespread summer drought. Drought is expected not only in North Carolina’s mountainous region, but across the state due to higher temperatures leading to increased soil and plant evaporation. 
  • Climate change will cost North Carolina more than $20.2 billion annuallyby the year 2100. North Carolina is predicted to see an estimated decrease of $650 million, or 46%, in annual agricultural profits due to climate change. Under these projections, North Carolina will be one of the four hardest hit states in regards to total loss and percentage loss.
  • Sea level rise could cost $93 million by 2030 and $233 million by 2080 for southern North Carolina beaches and their economies. A reduction in tourism visits due to sea level rise could mean a loss of $3.9 billion for North Carolina beaches over the next 75 years. 

Climate change and fossil fuel pollution have a disproportionate impact on people of color in North Carolina.

  • Studies show that communities of color in North Carolina are most exposed to the highest levels of pollution. Black North Carolinians are almost twice as likely to live near an EPA-registered polluter than white residents, and Mecklenburg County, whose population is over 30% Black and 13% Latino, received an F grade for the number of high ozone days in 2021. 
  • A 2019 report found that people of color in North Carolina, particularly Black and Native American residents, are dying at younger ages compared to white residents, with water quality emerging as a key contributor to health declines in these communities.
  • Thanks to a history of discriminatory redlining practices, residents in North Carolina’s floodplains are predominantly Black, Native American, and Latino. These communities are also disproportionately impacted by climate-fueled extreme weather, as evidenced by Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Matthew.