Gov. Tom Wolf Monday accepted the Department of Environmental Protection 2015 Climate Change Action Plan Update that details how increasing energy efficiency in all sectors and at all levels will play a key role in reducing Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions by target year 2030.
The Pennsylvania Climate Change Act of 2008 mandated the Climate Change Action Plan in 2009 as well as updates every three years. The last Plan Update was delivered to the Governor in December 2013.
Few of the 52 recommendations in the 2009 Plan Update were implemented. None of the legislative recommendations made in the 2013 Plan Update (page 78) were enacted.
The 2015 update presents data from the EPA State Inventory Tool for 2000 through 2012 (the most recent data available), showing an overall decrease of 15.93 percent in net emissions, reflecting a shift by some power plants from coal to natural gas, as well as the success of Pennsylvania’s energy efficiency programs.
Overall, Pennsylvania’s total greenhouse emissions are projected to be lower in 2030 than in 2000, with reductions in the residential, commercial, transportation, agriculture and waste sectors.
“Addressing climate change and the real impact on the health of our citizens, the costs of our businesses and the environment must be a priority for not just the commonwealth, but all sectors,” Gov. Wolf said.
The update presents 13 work plans to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. An economic analysis of the work plans included in the Plan shows that the majority have the potential to generate not only greenhouse gas emissions reductions but also significant improvements in total employment, total income and real disposable personal income.
With Pennsylvania being the third largest emitter of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the country, additional reductions are needed. Pennsylvania will be 3°C (5.4°F) warmer by 2050 than it was in 2000, according to the 2015 Climate Impacts Assessment Report by the Penn State University Environment and Natural Resources Institute.
The result will be dangerously high summer temperatures and more severe storms, increased threat of certain insect-borne diseases, and drastic changes to agriculture and water quality.
“The consequences of inaction on climate change will be felt by all Pennsylvanians,” said DEP Acting Secretary McDonnell, “It will affect the food we grow, the energy we use, our recreation, and even our health.”
The majority of work plans in the 2015 Climate Change Action Plan Update focus on energy efficiency measures.
The greatest emissions reductions would be achieved by holding new buildings to an emissions performance standard 60 percent lower than the regional average. Sizable emissions reduction would also be attained by continuing Act 129 of 2008, which requires utilities to come up with plans to encourage energy efficiency among their customers, through 2031.
Other work plans address coal mine methane recovery, the latest building energy codes, heating oil conservation and fuel switching, combined heat and power systems, ground source heat pumps, energy technical assistance for manufacturers, tree-planting programs, energy efficiency financing for homeowners, semi-truck adaptations, and anaerobic manure digesters.
The plans were created in partnership with the Climate Change Advisory Committee, whose members include the secretaries of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Department of Community and Economic Development; the chair of the Public Utility Commission; and Governor’s Office and legislative appointees. All plans were voted on, with most approved unanimously.
The Center for Climate Strategies conducted macroeconomic analyses to determine the potential costs, benefits, and job impacts of the work plans. In addition to environmental benefits, the analysis shows economic benefits, including increased jobs.
Highlighting the important role that all Pennsylvanians play in helping to lower emissions, the update includes 25 actions individuals can take, including lowering their energy use, finding energy efficiency financing, reducing food waste, and planting trees to absorb carbon.
For more information and a copy of the 2015 Plan Update, visit DEP’s Climate Change webpage. Information on past reports is available at the DEP Climate Change Advisory Committee webpage.
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