SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Climate Change Impacts on Georgia


This webpage is adapted from our fact sheet, “Climate Change Impacts on Georgia.” Click here to download the fact sheet.


Power plant pollution

Over the last decade, GA coal-fired power plants produced an average of 62,500,000 tons of carbon pollution each year.

The earth’s climate is changing because of excess carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere, generated when fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas are burned. This extra carbon traps more heat, like a greenhouse, which explains why 2000 to 2009 was the hottest decade ever recorded and there have been over 390 consecutive months with hotter-than-average global temperatures. Modern civilization developed in a stable climate and we have built our economy and way of life accordingly. Changes to our climate means that we are facing emerging hardships and vulnerabilities as the impacts of climate change unfold.

Some impacts from climate change include extreme storms, flooding from sea level rise, heat waves, and drought. These impacts have consequences for public health, safety, the economy, the environment, and our way of life.

Fortunately, we can protect against the worst impacts by limiting carbon pollution with energy efficiency and using more clean renewable energy, like solar and wind instead.


It is difficult to link any one event directly to climate change, and it is important to recognize that most climate data is regional or even global in scope. However, decades of expert research and centuries of historical records can be compared with recent trends to illustrate how climate change is already impacting parts of the Southeastern United States. These impacts, combined with possible future impacts, are both cause for concern and the imperative for action.

Extreme weather events, like the “polar vortex” of 2014, are becoming more common in a warmer climate. These events have a large toll in terms of physical damage, lost productivity, and public health.

Extreme weather events, like the “polar vortex” of 2014, are becoming more common in a warmer climate. These events have a large toll in terms of physical damage, lost productivity, and public health.

  • Extreme weather, including severe storms, heat waves, and more intense hurricanes are all becoming more typical in a warmer world. These events have a large toll in terms of physical damage, lost productivity, higher insurance costs, and public health. Cold snaps may become more common, like the 2014 “polar vortex,” which crippled Atlanta with road gridlock while thousands of children had to spend the night at school because their parents couldn’t reach them.
  • Heritage foods of Georgia are suffering because of carbon pollution and climate change. Heat and drought stress is expected to increase with global warming, similar to what we have witnessed with peanut, pasture/hay/beef, beans, and corn production in recent years. Drought has caused Gov. Perdue to declare a state of emergency in 2007, 151 counties to be declared disasters in 2010, and 150 counties again in 2011. Meanwhile, fruit and nut farmers are experiencing crop losses from unreliable winter weather and late spring freezes, which are expected to become more frequent, such as in 2007 and 2017, which each wiped out 70% of the blueberry crop and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
  • Some of Georgia’s most treasured places are flooding and eroding away due in part to sea level rise from climate change, projected to be between 8 inches and 8 feet throughout this century alone. Coastal communities like historic Savannah and Georgia’s many islands are in jeopardy, along with the pastimes they afford and the economic value they generate through tourism.




Clean energy, such as solar, wind, and energy efficiency, produces no pollution and provides jobs in our struggling economy. Studies show that the United States could easily generate 80% of its power from clean sources by 2050. Energy efficiency can dramatically reduce the amount of power we use in our homes and businesses and lower our bills. In Georgia, our offshore wind resource alone could produce more than one-third of the electricity we currently use each year. Solar power is unlimited energy from the sun, free for the taking if our state policies are used to level the playing field between solar and more traditional, polluting power sources like coal and nuclear.


Some energy sources have greater risks associated with their use. Old, inefficient and dirty coal power plants must be retired to reduce levels of pollution that trigger asthma attacks and heart and lung disease, put mercury in our water, and cause climate change. Nuclear power plants emit less carbon than coal but are extremely expensive to build, require large amounts of water to operate, generate dangerous, highly radioactive waste and can have devastating consequences should an accident occur. Our coast is too precious to be compromised by spills from offshore drilling. Clean energy is a positive alternative to each of these risky energy sources.

Take Action Button


1) Find and Contact Your Legislators – National and state-level climate and energy policies are imperative to ensure protection from the worst impacts of climate change and to secure the benefits of clean energy. Find your Washington, D.C. and Atlanta legislators’ contact information here, and contact them to tell them we must lead the way in climate and energy policies that:

  • Limit carbon pollution
  • Invest in job-creating clean energy technologies
  • Hold polluters accountable and end fossil-fuel subsidies
  • Preserve and strengthen the Clean Air Act

2) Support Our Work & Become a Member of SACE Today – Be a part in helping Georgia usher in the clean energy economy, clean up our environment, and securing the world we ought to pass down to future generations. Support from our members is critical to success in SACE’s work. Become a member today here.

3) Join the Southeast Coastal Climate Network – The Southeast Coastal Climate Network is a group of individuals and organizations, dedicated to fostering regional leadership in mitigating and adapting to the challenge of global warming. Join for free here.

Click here to learn more about energy in the Southeast.

Click here for more ways to take action.