Annual Report 2020
Advocating for the health of all North Carolinians by pursuing equitable and collaborative solutions that address climate change and air pollution.
A message from our
The year 2020 will go down in history. But this past year’s impact isn’t just in how it changed the world, but also how it revealed and underscored things that have always been there: racial and social inequities that drive health disparities in our communities; the importance of clean air to our health and wellbeing; and the urgency of addressing the next looming global health crisis, climate change.
Yet despite the challenges this year threw at us, Clean Air Carolina made significant progress on our goals thanks to our strong partnerships and your continued support. We grew our climate advocacy and educational programming by launching the NC Climate Ambassadors Program which is enabling us to recruit new advocates eager to take the lead on climate action in their communities.
We hosted innovative public art exhibits to shine a light on Charlotte’s air pollution and spur fresh ideas for climate change solutions. We strengthened air quality monitoring in eastern North Carolina, and expanded the footprint of our Clean Construction Partnership. We also won several key clean air and climate change victories that will alleviate environmental justice inequities and laid the groundwork for new campaigns that will help North Carolina reach a clean energy future.
2020 was not the year anyone envisioned, but together we accomplished so much. I look forward to working with you in 2021 and beyond as we continue to hold polluters accountable, advance meaningful climate solutions, and protect the health of North Carolina’s most vulnerable populations. Thank you.
Our 2020 Work
For over a decade the CPI power plants in Roxboro and Southport generated energy by burning garbage, including tires and railroad ties. Thanks to a challenge from Clean Air Carolina and our partners, the NC Division of Air Quality stepped in to enforce air quality standards, ultimately resulting in both plants ending operations. This will mean cleaner, healthier air for the communities of Person and Brunswick Counties.
Methyl bromide is commonly used at log fumigation plants, despite the severe neurological and respiratory problems it causes. We’ve worked with our partners, community groups, and the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to set science-based limits on this toxin, with DEQ ultimately passing a rule in 2020 to regulate its use. This is a huge victory for public health in Columbus and New Hanover Counties, and for everyone who worked with us to keep methyl bromide out of our air and water.
Training the Next Climate Leaders
Over the summer we kicked off our North Carolina Climate Ambassadors Program, a series of training workshops that equip civic leaders and community advocates with the knowledge, communications skills, and resources to effectively push for climate solutions in their communities. After two initial trainings focused on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, we expanded the program statewide to both meet demand and increase the number of grassroots advocates who can speak and act confidently on climate change solutions from a North Carolina perspective.
For over a year, Clean Air Carolina and our partners worked with Charlotte city leaders to reduce the carbon emissions from the city’s bus fleet. These efforts paid off in October, when the Charlotte Area Transit System announced it will work with Duke Energy to convert Charlotte’s entire fleet of nearly 300 buses from diesel to electric. This step will go a long way towards helping the city of Charlotte meet its greenhouse gas emission goals.
East Carolina University (ECU) became the newest member of our Clean Construction Partnership in 2020, joining Novant Health, Atrium Health, and UNC Charlotte. This initiative improves community health by reducing dangerous emissions from construction sites, typically heavy sources of particulate matter and diesel pollution. By joining the Partnership, ECU is committing to implement clean construction standards that will ensure healthier air for its students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
Shining a Light on Charlotte’s Air Pollution
CAC hosted Particle Falls Charlotte, a dramatic air quality exhibit by environmental artist Andrea Polli that translates real-time particle pollution data from the surrounding air into an animated light display. From late February to late March, visitors walking through downtown Charlotte got a visible reminder of the otherwise invisible dangers in the air we breathe.
All Carolina families deserve affordable, clean, healthy, and equitable energy. And while Duke Energy has set some ambitious climate goals, it’s worth asking how the company plans to meet those goals.
In 2020 Clean Air Carolina and our partners laid the groundwork for a report published in early 2021 that compares Duke Energy’s public climate goals with the specific carbon reduction strategies the company outlined in their Integrated Resource Plan. The big takeaway: While Duke Energy is making encouraging progress, they still have a ways to go to make its climate targets a reality. Our report lays out eight recommendations that will help Duke Energy achieve the carbon reductions North Carolina needs.
Inspiring Climate Action Through Public Art
We helped bring the public art exhibit Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet to uptown Charlotte. The exhibit featured over 30 globes designed by both local and international artists, each of which creatively expressed ways to tackle climate change. Clean Air Carolina also hosted a Cool Globes Virtual Challenge throughout the fall, helping those unable to visit the exhibit to virtually explore the globes, including students across the state.
Clean Air Actions Around the State
Even in a virtual year, our impact was statewide.
The Blue Sky Awards honor the individuals, organizations, and partners who have shown
extraordinary commitment to tackling the climate crisis and improving North Carolina’s air quality.
Alan Burns Legacy Award
EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
Nonprofit Partner of the Year
Volunteer of the Year
To our 2020 donors, thank you. Thank you for investing in clean air and climate action. We are in awe of your generosity during a challenging year. Because of your support, we held polluters accountable and worked with vulnerable communities to improve public health and advocate for a clean energy economy. On behalf of the CAC staff and board, thank you again for your belief in our mission and work. We look forward to all we will accomplish together in 2021 for cleaner air and healthier people.
Director of Operations
Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, Manager
Citizen Science, Manager
Marketing Communications Manager
Clean Air for Kids, Manager
2020 board of directors
Kwame Alexander, Chair
Assistant District Attorney
Bob Brownlee, MD
Physician, Internal Medicine
Tryon Medical Partners
Self-Help Credit Union
Operational Risk Consultant
Michael Jemison, Vice-chair
Senior Financial Business Analyst
Bank of America
Professor, Dept. of Geography & Earth Sciences
Joy Marshall, Secretary
RESET Integrative Health Coaching
Lorraine Piephoff, Treasurer
Certified Public Accountant
North Carolina State Senator
Community Planning and Resilience Principal
CASE Consultants International
Chief Human Resources Officer
Foundation For The Carolinas