North Carolina’s mountainous western landscape eases to coastal plains in the east, where the state boasts 322 miles of coastline and, at over 12 thousand miles, the second-largest estuarine system in the country. Off North Carolina’s coast are the Outer Banks, the site of the first European colony in the 1500s, which are now rapidly disappearing into the Atlantic Ocean as the sea levels rise. Home to about 10.5 million people and stretching almost 50 thousand square miles, North Carolina is also home to 8 Native American tribes and 4 urban Indian organizations. Among those are the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who have reclaimed a sovereign nation of 100 square miles.

Both coastal and inland flooding are urgent threats in North Carolina. Sea levels along the Atlantic Coast are rising even more rapidly than elsewhere, because the coast is also sinking due to erosion. Over 120 thousand people are currently at risk of coastal flooding in and that number is expected to rise by 44 thousand by 2050. Higher sea levels also make it more likely that storm surges breach barriers — a concern as tropical storms and hurricanes intensify in warmer waters. Since 1958, the amount of precipitation during heavy rainstorms has increased 27% in the Southeast, a trend that is projected to continue. Almost half a million people in North Carolina are living in an area with elevated risk of inland flooding.

Clearly no stranger to hurricanes and wet weather, North Carolina has been hit exceptionally hard in recent years. The most devastating, Hurricane Florence (September, 2018), caused at least $13 billion in damages, as well as knocking out power for 1.1 million North Carolinians, and costing 142 people their lives. It hit as the state was still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Matthew (2016), which created widespread flooding, much of which lingered for weeks after the rains had stopped — the soil too saturated to allow water to infiltrate and the slope of the land too shallow to create much possibility for drainage. And, then came Hurricane Michael (October, 2018), knocking out power for thousands and flooding the Northern Outer Banks. Dorian was the one to remember in 2019 as was Isaias in August, 2020, bringing 15 tornadoes along with it. As oceans warm, hurricanes will get wetter and heavier, primed to dispense thousands of gallons on coastal regions and low-lying areas, flooding homes, destroying infrastructure, and endangering lives.

North Carolina remains one of the top ten nuclear energy producers in the US. Nuclear energy was the largest source of electricity in North Carolina in 2019, providing almost one-third of the state’s electricity. Natural gas provided only slightly less exceeding coal-fired generation for the first time since 2016. Prior to 2012, coal-fired power plants supplied more than half of the electricity generated in North Carolina; however, nearly 30 coal-fired units have since been retired and 30 natural gas-fired units added. By 2019, coal provided less than one-fourth. More than 10% of electricity in North Carolina comes from renewable energy,  the majority of which is solar, followed by hydroelectricity, biomass and a small, but potentially growing amount of wind as Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina agreed, in October 2021, to join forces to build offshore power projects. North Carolina ranks second after California in the country for installed solar generating capacity.

North Carolina was the first state in the Southeast to adopt a Renewable Energy Standard in 2007. The RES requires investor-owned utilities to meet 12.5% of their sales from renewable energy by 2021, while rural electric cooperatives and municipal electric suppliers were required to meet 10% by 2018. In 2020, North Carolina released its Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan, the culmination of an interdisciplinary effort mandated in 2018 by Governor Roy Cooper. This is the state’s first adaptation plan and includes vulnerability assessments across 11 sectors, climate justice concerns and strategies, and recommendations for nature-based solutions to enhance ecosystem resiliency and carbon sequestering. In October, 2021, the governor signed House Bill 951 turning a compromise on North Carolina’s energy future between his office and legislative Republicans into law. A milestone energy bill, which aims to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s power plants, setting carbon dioxide emissions reduction targets of 70% from 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero by 2050 for Duke Energy, this revised version of House Bill 951 will shape North Carolina’s energy mix for decades. In a ceremony with legislators from both parties, Governor Cooper enacted a law that now tasks the state Utilities Commission with coming up by the end of 2022 with the arrangements to meet the carbon dioxide reduction goals sought by the governor.

At least 16 states previously have passed legislation establishing greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The only other Southeast state to have done so before Wednesday was Virginia.

North Carolina is one of twenty-four states, along with Puerto Rico, committed to the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is working to implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.


North Carolinians Support Clean Energy and Electric Vehicles

As North Carolina transitions to a 21st-century clean energy economy, electric vehicles will play an important role in achieving many of the state’s clean energy, climate resilience, economic, and public health goals. The North Carolina…
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Whistleblower: Enviva claim of ‘being good for the planet… all nonsense’

By Justin Catanoso 12/05/22
The operator of a Tigercat tractor used its claw-like arm to skillfully scoop up what just days before had been a sizable old oak, as the clear-cut of a thickly wooded 52-acre (21-hectare) site in…
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Can EVs Help Power a Cleaner & More Flexible Grid?

By Sarah Lozanova 09/14/22
Duke Energy recently announced that it wants to use EV batteries from Ford F-150 Lightning pickup trucks (F-150s) to help power the grid by utilizing “vehicle-to-grid” technology. This pilot program in North Carolina will partner…
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Rising seas could swallow millions of U.S. acres within decades

By Brady Dennis 09/08/22
New research finds an estimated 25,000 properties in Louisiana could slip below tidal boundary lines by 2050. Florida, Texas and North Carolina also face profound economic risks.
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‘They are not slowing down’: The rise of billion-dollar disasters

Brady Dennis 08/04/22
One battered N.C. community illustrates how summer, fueled in part by climate change, is proving an especially perilous and costly season.
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The quest to keep carbon in North Carolina’s wetlands

By Brady Dennis 05/31/22
George Washington himself aspired to drain this sprawling wetland that straddles the border of North Carolina and Virginia — one in a long line of investors eager to carve out farmland, harvest stands of Atlantic…
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He bought the house 9 months ago. Then the ocean swept it away.

By Brady Dennis 05/13/22
He and his sister purchased the four-bedroom waterfront home in August for $550,000. With its airy rooms, two levels of decks and stunning Atlantic views, Patricelli envisioned it as an ideal spot to welcome friends…
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The swift march of climate change in North Carolina’s ‘ghost forests’

By Brady Dennis 05/12/22
As the first light of day flickers across the Croatan Sound, Scott Lanier surveys the gray, barren tree trunks that stand in every direction, like massive gravestones marking the once-vibrant landscape.
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North Carolina beach homes collapse from lumbering coastal storm

By Jason Samenow & Brady Dennis 05/11/22
The two homes along Ocean Drive in Rodanthe collapsed after days of battering from a coastal storm, the National Park Service confirmed — the same storm that unleashed tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma, as well…
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North Carolina Hurricanes Linked to Increases in Gastrointestinal Illnesses in Marginalized Communities

By Leah Campbell 03/07/22
North Carolina emergency rooms reported hundreds of visits for gastrointestinal illnesses like diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain in the weeks during and after Hurricanes Florence, in 2018, and Matthew, in 2016. A new study released…
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North Carolina sets goal to sell 50% zero-emission vehicles by 2030

By Emma Penrod 01/10/22
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, D, issued an executive order on Friday that outlines the state's next steps toward its goal of halving carbon emissions by 2030, and achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
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Solar and green groups buy into Duke’s net-metering plan in North Carolina

By Jeff St. John 12/02/21
Duke Energy customers in North Carolina are poised to get a revamped net-metering regime for new home solar systems — one that would closely tie the value of rooftop solar power to how much households…
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General Assembly Of North Carolina Session 2021


Climate change: North Carolina gov signs major energy law

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina signed a milestone energy bill into law Wednesday that aims to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s power plants by 2030, celebrating the legislative accomplishment with…

Climate change challenges trout industry in North Carolina

By Emma Johnson 05/01/21
Raising trout in Western North Carolina is a time — and labor — intensive process, and the growing threat of climate change only worsens the situation, creating difficulties for hatcheries and recreational fisherman. Producing trout…

Preparing for Climate Change in North Carolina

This page provides an overview of the steps North Carolina is taking to prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Cumberland County, North Carolina, Climate Resiliency Plan

Updated in 2018, Sustainable Sandhills facilitated a climate adaptation planning process through the Climate Solutions University (CSU): Forest and Water Strategies program that produced the Cumberland County Climate Resiliency Plan (C3RP) in 2016. CSU challenges…

North Carolina Climate and Health Adaptation Plan, 2016

In 2012, the North Carolina Climate and Health Adaptation Plan was developed. Since then, additional climate and health work has led the North Carolina Division of Public Health’s Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch to update…


North Carolina Deep Decarbonization Pathways Analysis

The Cooper Administration has prioritized bold action to confront the climate crisis and grow North Carolina’s clean energy economy in a manner that centers equity and affordability and creates opportunities for all North Carolinians (see…

North Carolina State Profile and Energy Estimates

North Carolina rises from its Atlantic Ocean coastline to the highest peak east of the Mississippi River—Mount Mitchell, which stands more than a mile above sea level at 6,684 feet. The state's terrain ranges from…

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Targets and Market-based Policies

States have implemented a variety of policies aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At least 16 states and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation establishing GHG emissions reduction requirements, with more requiring state agencies to…

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

Environment and Natural Resources State Bill Tracking Database

The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks environment and natural resources bills that have been introduced in the 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C.

The First National Flood Risk Assessment

The First Street Foundation Flood Model represents the culmination of decades of research and development made possible by building upon existing knowledge and frameworks regularly referenced in the identification of flood risk.

The State of Climate Adaptation in Public Health An Assessment of 16 U.S. States

EcoAdaptpartnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council to assess the state of climate adaptation planning and implementation for climate-related threats to public health in 16 U.S. states.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in North Carolina

Between 2017 and 2019, North Carolina experienced five tropical cyclones, five severe storms, two winter storms, and one freeze. The damages of each event led to losses of at least $1 billion.

North Carolina Coastal Flooding

Climate change causing more nuisance flooding in North Carolina. Today, North Carolina has 122,000 people at risk of coastal flooding. By 2050, an additional 44,000 people are projected to be at risk due to sea…

What Climate Change Means for North Carolina

North Carolina’s climate is changing. Most of the state has warmed one-half to one degree (F) in the last century, and the sea is rising about one inch every decade.

State-by-State: Climate Change in North Carolina

North Carolina climate and energy facts

North Carolina Renewable Energy

An introduction to renewable energy in North Carolina from Arcadia, an online energy service that is making the process of converting to clean energy more accessible to homeowners and renters across the country.

NC Sustainable Energy Network

The NC Sustainable Energy Association is a leading organization of individuals, businesses, government, and nonprofits interested in North Carolina's sustainable energy future. Our mission is to drive policy and market development to create clean energy…

NC Clean Energy Technology Center

The Center provides services to the businesses and citizens of North Carolina and beyond relating to the development and adoption of clean energy technologies. Through its programs and activities, we envision and seek to promote…

Floodplain Regulations Technical Guidance Document

The responsibility for reducing flood losses is shared by all units of government—local, state and federal—and the private sector. In order to fulfill this responsibility, land owners and/or professionals planning any “Development” activity within the…


Getting Climate Resilience Right in North Carolina

By Rob Moore   05/26/20  
As hurricane season looms especially large this year, and COVID-19 reveals the deep cracks and fissures in our nation’s response preparedness, North Carolina is gearing up to release its long-awaited plan to bolster climate resilience.
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‘An exciting milestone’: North Carolina takes first step on offshore wind study

By Elizabeth Ouzts   05/22/20  
The recently issued request for proposals is a “signal to the offshore wind industry that North Carolina is open for business,” one observer said.
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North Carolina sees big loss of clean-energy jobs amid Covid-19 pandemic

By John Downey   05/15/20  
The Covid-19 economic slowdown cost North Carolina more than 26,000 of the nearly 110,000 clean-energy jobs statewide in March and April, according to a new report on the industry.
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NC Climate Report Shows Warming Temperatures, Rising Sea Levels

By Eddie Garcia   05/01/20  
A new report on North Carolina’s climate predicts a warmer, wetter, and more humid environment. One of the big takeaways is that 2019 was the hottest year on record for the state. The study says…
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Battered by Matthew and Florence, North Carolina Must Brace for More Intense Hurricanes | InsideClimate News

By James Bruggers   04/24/20  
Their doors and windows are missing, with piles of trash and carpeting in the yards, serving as a reminder of what can happen when a major hurricane stalls out over land, dumping more than 30…
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One city’s plan to combat climate change: Bulldoze homes, rebuild paradise

By Frances Stead Sellers   11/26/19  
Charlotte has been demolishing flood-prone houses for years. But the floods are getting bigger.
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Coal ash pollution: North Carolina mom digs into possible cancer cause

I was going to accept my daughter's thyroid cancer diagnosis as just the cards we were dealt, but I realized things were not normal in my hometown....
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Hurricane Dorian, Weaker But Still Dangerous, Makes Landfall In North Carolina’s Outer Banks

Weakened to a Category 1 hurricane, the powerful storm lashed communities with wind, rain and floodwaters. ...
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A Southern Governor’s Climate and Clean Energy Plan Aims for Zero Emissions

By James Bruggers   08/30/19  
After replacing a Republican who questioned whether climate change was caused by human activities, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has testified before Congress on North Carolina's sizable climate challenges and unveiled a draft clean energy plan…
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North Carolina Senate tables bill to expand state energy savings program

By Elizabeth Ouzts   07/12/19  
Sen. Bill Rabon said the measure won’t be heard in his committee before lawmakers end their 2019 session. ...
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Health Officials (Mostly) Not Waiting to Act on Climate

By Juanita Constible   07/09/19  
A new report released by EcoAdapt with the support of NRDC finds that public health departments in 16 U.S. states are building their capacity to deal with the myriad health harms of climate disruption—even if…
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Ancient North Carolina trees that hold climate clues are under threat

Trees that tower over a protected forest along the Black River in southeastern North Carolina have held environmental secrets for more than 2,000 years, but their knowledge and existence is now threatened by climate change-driven…
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Duke Energy Proposes $76 Million for Electric Vehicle Infrastructure in North Carolina

By Dory Larsen   04/09/19  
Duke Energy has asked the North Carolina Utility Commission to approve a $76 million electric vehicle pilot program, which would dramatically increase the number of charging stations in North Carolina.
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North Carolina Governor Urged to Appoint Utility Commissioners That Will Promote Clean Energy, Protect Public Health

By The Center for Biological Diversity   03/28/19  
A coalition of 14 environmental justice groups today called on North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to appoint members to the North Carolina Utilities Commission that do not have ties to the fossil fuel industry and…
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After Back-to-Back Hurricanes, North Carolina Reconsiders Climate Change

By James Bruggers   12/27/18  
In a state where lawmakers once rejected sea level rise warnings, polls show a growing concern among residents and a desire for better policies.
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Duke 15-year plans lean heavy on gas to replace coal

By Robert Walton   09/10/18  
Duke Energy has filed a pair of integrated resource plans (IRP) with North Carolina regulators, sketching a 15-year resource plan that adds significant new solar resources but continues to lean heavily on natural gas-fired generation…
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Free the Floodplains!

Yen Duong   11/11/19  
Millions of Americans live at risk of flooding, but slow federal flood buyouts drain precious time and resources. How one community is rising above the storm, taking matters into their own hands, and returning the…
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‘Extreme Pollen’ Blankets North Carolina in a Sneeze-Inducing Yellow Haze

By Dan Levin   04/11/19  
Spring can feel like the end of the world for allergy sufferers, but in North Carolina this week, it looked that way, too. And it has a name to match: “Pollenpocalypse.”
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