U.S. climate report shows progress, but not enough
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U.S. climate report shows progress, but not enough

The fifth National Climate Assessment, released Tuesday, found that U.S. carbon emissions are falling and efforts to adapt to climate change are expanding. But the report also warned that those efforts will not be enough to avoid the intensifying impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise and extreme weather.

In the Southeast, population growth and development are the main drivers of change, and these changes are having greater economic and health impacts on smaller and more rural communities and people of color.

The report focuses on Princeville, a historically black community in eastern North Carolina that experienced severe flooding after the hurricane. The town has taken some proactive adaptation measures, including buyouts, razing homes and preserving spaces that are meaningful to the community. However, the report notes that it is unclear how successful these efforts will be in the next major storm.

U.S. climate report shows progress, but not enough

Another part of the report describes the Gullah Geechee National Heritage Corridor, which stretches from North Carolina to Florida. The Gullah Geechee people are descendants of slaves who faced sea level rise and storms. The report notes that the lack of clear land titles (known as heirloom property) makes it difficult for people in these areas to access federal disaster assistance.

The report found that the areas making the most progress on climate change tend to be wealthier coastal communities and cities. That puts rural and underserved areas at greater risk.

Commenting on a draft of the report, Alice Kankanchi of the Southern Environmental Law Center said that despite some positive trends, the Southeast is not moving fast enough to address climate change. She noted that the region’s utilities are poised to increase their investment in dirty methane gas, and that power companies such as the Tennessee Valley Authority and Duke Energy are proposing large-scale investments in new fossil fuels.

In addition to the report, federal officials are releasing maps and graphics, podcasts and interactive atlases to help people understand the latest U.S. climate data.

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