NORTH CAROLINA -- Several Republican candidates in North Carolina are embracing climate change, saying that humans are playing a role.

Congressmen Ted Budd and George Holding made the comments during debates on Spectrum News.

“It is obvious that humans have some impact on the environment,” said Budd, during his appearance opposite Democratic challenger Kathy Manning.

“I believe the climate is changing,” Holding said during his debate. “I think human activity has all sorts of impact on the environment.”

The two Republicans follow in the footsteps of Sen. Thom Tillis, who previously told Spectrum News that he believes the climate can change due to “human factors.”

This is largely something new for the GOP, says Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. “Historically, I think in the Republican Party, there’s been a greater resistance to acknowledging the phenomenon of climate change,” he said.

Both Budd and Holding are facing surprisingly tough races, where more moderate voters could be key in determining who gets sent to Capitol Hill.

“I think it probably reflects their sense of where their electorate is,” Profeta said.

The comments also come as the state continues to recover from back-to-back poundings from two historic hurricanes. Across the southeast portion of the state, clean-up is still very much underway.

Not all Republicans are onboard, however. Mark Harris, who is in a toss-up race against Democrat Dan McCready in the 9th congressional district.

“While I do agree that the earth is warming, I do not necessarily buy into the fact that as humans we are creating the issue,” Harris said.

So what can and should be done? Republicans were hesitant to say that government should step in to try to regulate industry, concerned about what it could mean for the economy.

Profit says time is of the essence.

“Climate change will continually get worse and more serious the less we address it,” he said. “We always should be willing and interested in acting to mitigate it because it always has another degree of severity to come.”

At the very least, he said, hearing politicians say they believe humans are playing a role is a step forward.

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