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Action Plan Released for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in North Carolina

BOONE–Threats of rising oceans, skyrocketing temperatures, unpredictable floods and storms, and other possible effects of global warming keep many North Carolinians concerned about increasing greenhouse gases.

As scientists continue to better understand the phenomenon, North Carolina is preparing for the worst. A research team led by professors at Appalachian State University recently released the state’s first plan to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) produced here.

Whittling through 250 possible strategies to combat GHG, researchers picked only the most cost effective and efficient for the “Sensible Greenhouse Gas Reduction” plan. Everyday ideas include increased recycling, improved mass transit and better insulated homes. Specialty strategies range from better manure management by farmers to adding 2.2 million acres to the state’s forestland.

North Carolina is one of 20 states devising GHG plans in anticipation of federal mandates to lower emissions. The plan could help offset the economic risk that climate

change poses to the state’s agricultural, food and forestry industries.

The plan’s goal is to reduce the state’s GHG levels to 7 percent below 1990 by 2010, a goal in line with those set for other countries at a 1997 global conference in Kyoto, Japan. The U.S. Congress has not yet ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

Researchers said, if implemented, the plan would cut the state’s 2010 GHG totals by 81 megatons and would save $6.7 billion in energy costs.

While not binding on industry, residents or government agencies, the plan sets forth its findings and recommendations as tools for legislators to use or adopt as a method to reduce the state’s GHG.

Strategies listed for industry include modernizing equipment, automating processes and switching from coal to natural gas. The commercial sector would be called to improve the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment, and to improve existing buildings by adding energy efficient lighting and heating.

The state’s residents would contribute to the plan by adding attic insulation, retrofitting windows and sealing ducts in older homes. New construction projects would need to be built as energy efficient homes.

The executive summary and the action plan are available online:

Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s State and Local Climate Change Program, the Energy Division of the N.C. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Energy, the plan was created by researchers at Appalachian, the North Carolina Solar Center, Southface Energy Institute and Torrie Smith & Associates.