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Center for a Better South
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Charleston, SC 29413

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Southerners have special reasons to tackle global warming. Our summers are already hot. Our coastlines are already vulnerable to hurricanes. And our economies include strong tourism, real estate, forestry and agriculture sectors. Higher temperatures mean more rain, but likely dryer soils since heat speeds evaporation. Greater heat and precipitation equals more extreme weather events. In the future, natural systems and the industries that depend on them, such as tourism, real estate, agriculture and forestry, will face major changes.

Climate change is a big enough issue that its effects deserve comprehensive planning, goal-setting and implementation with state legislative buy-in and guidance at each stage of the process. To protect their own interests and to look for opportunities, Southern states owe it to themselves and their people to convene stakeholders, analyze what is occurring and promote state-specific solutions.


Recommendation 1: Each Southern state should designate a leadership body on global warming to develop a statewide global warming emissions reduction plan.

Recommendation 2: Each Southern state's global warming emissions reduction plan should establish a target reduction that at least reduces emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 and 10 percent below that level by 2020.

Talking points

  • Global warming is real. The South is getting hotter. Farmers are experiencing lower crop yields. Wildlife habitat is shrinking. Smog is increasing.

  • Other nations, states and businesses are rethinking how they operate to confront climate change. Not only are they finding savings by adopting new strategies to deal with global warming, they're discovering new ways to do things better for taxpayers and stockholders.

  • But Southern state governments are behind the curve in many ways.

  • It's important for them to reduce global warming emissions because they are among the top greenhouse gas emitters in the world. And if they don't confront realities from global warming, they're likely to be left behind - and left to market rules and conditions decided by others.

  • As a key step, each Southern state should develop a statewide leadership organization to draft a global warming emissions reduction plan. Then they should set aggressive levels to reduce emissions soon.

  • Climate change is a big enough issue that its effects deserve comprehensive planning, goal-setting and implementation. State legislatures need to be on the forefront of guiding solutions.

As this chart from Chapter 1 highlights, all Southern states are among the world's top carbon dioxide emitters if states are treated as countries.

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