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The Daily Tar Heel

Op-ed: Financing Carrboro's 203 Project delays climate change action

The Town of Carrboro prides itself as a progressive town.  

On climate emergency action, we have set a climate justice goal for doing our part: an 80 percent reduction of per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Yet, voters have failed to elect majorities in any level of government that are serious about climate emergency action — or willing to allocate sufficient funds for doing their part for taking action within the closing 10-year window for emergency climate action that we may still have.

Towns like Carrboro talk a good talk, but we are also microcosms of other scales of governance. Despite set intentions, we still are on track to misallocate precious resources through ‘business as usual’ mismatched decision-making.  

On April 5, the Carrboro Town Council will have a public hearing to consider one last step toward a 19 million dollar commitment of resources; we will consider approving debt financing for the town’s share of costs for the design and construction of The 203 Project ($48,000 parking spaces, town offices, performance space, meeting spaces, etc). This money represents half of the cost of climate action that the Town would need to budget for to pay the 20 percent typically put up by local governments when they have state and federal partners.

The Town’s climate action plans do not include The 203 Project as an action item in part because actions in our plans are aligned with time-sensitive, science and justice-defined goals. We do not have the luxury of decades' worth of time for action. 

While it is true that this building will contribute to the high-density mixed-use development that aligns better with a multimodal transportation system that is free from fossil fuels, the time necessary to displace the many decades worth of suburban built environment that we have painted ourselves into a corner with does not exist.  

This decade is for safeguarding a chance for humans to have a say in our future, specifically through fast emergency measures before runaway climate change happens. After this, nothing we do will truly make a difference.

Summarizing the latest dire climate change IPCC report, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said ‘Delay is Death.’ 

Sadly — and tragically — as progressive as we like to think of ourselves, even Carrboro is prioritizing death too.

If you would like to give the Town Council feedback on this decision for your future, please email The Carrboro Town Council before April 5 at

Sammy Slade

Carrboro Town Council Member and UNC Alumni


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