Tuesday, April 23, 2019

DEP To Release 2018 Climate Action Plan Update As Early As Next Week

On April 23, DEP told the Climate Change Advisory Committee the final version of the 2018 PA Climate Action Plan Update should be released by the end of the month, which means next week.
The Plan Update will include DEP’s recommendations for achieving a goal of reducing overall greenhouse gas emission by 26 percent by 2025 from 2005 levels and an 80 percent net reduction by 2050.
These targets are in line with the goals established in the 2015 U.N. Paris Climate Agreement and are the same goals included in an executive order issued by Gov. Wolf in January on greenhouse gas reductions.
The draft Action Plan reviewed by the Committee in December contained over 100 recommended actions that would help the Commonwealth reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Fifteen actions under 7 general strategy categories were selected in the draft plan as the most cost-effective with the biggest greenhouse gas reductions--
-- Create a diverse portfolio of clean, utility-scale electricity generation--
  -- Increase Alternative Portfolios Energy Standard (AEPS) Tier 1 targets, further increase in-state generation, use of renewables
  -- Implement policy to maintain nuclear generation at current levels
  -- Limit carbon emissions through an electricity sector cap and trade program
-- Increase end use energy conservation and efficiency--
  -- Update building codes
  -- Increase adoption of energy efficiency and expand Act 129
  -- Create an Act 129-like efficiency program for natural gas
  -- Expand energy assessments and provide training on energy efficiency
-- Implement sustainable transportation planning and practices--
  -- Reduce vehicle miles traveled for single-occupancy vehicles
  -- Implement a strategic plan and incentives for increasing electric vehicle use
  -- Increase the use of clean public transportation through electric municipal bus fleets
-- Increase use of clean, distributed electricity generation resources--
  -- Invest in and promote building-scale solar
  -- Incentivize and increase use of combined heat and power (CHP)
-- Reduce upstream impacts of fossil fuel energy production--
  -- Implement policies and practices to reduce methane emissions across oil and natural gas systems
-- Increase production and use of alternative fuels--
  -- Increase recovery and use of gas from coal mines, agriculture, wastewater, and landfills for energy
-- Use agricultural best practices---
  -- Implement and provide training for no-till farming practices.
Regional Transportation Climate Initiative
DEP also provided an update on the interstate Regional Transportation Climate Initiative Pennsylvania joined in December with other Northeast states.
DEP said the group is working on a proposed regional cap-and-trade program covering transportation fuels, much like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (REGGI) does for other greenhouse gas emissions.
Workshops on April 30 (Boston) and May 15 (Newark) will explore the development of the cap-and-trade proposal in depth with a variety of stakeholders.  Click Here for more on the workshops.  A webcast of the workshops will be available.
Updated Impact Assessment
DEP now has Penn State University under contract to complete a new state Climate Impact Assessment that will focus on documenting likely impacts in 3 specific areas-- livestock production, resilience of infrastructure and on meeting water pollution reduction goals.
DEP said the analysis should be done by the end of September and a report should be available by the end of the year.
Click Here for more on the content of the new impact assessment.
The last Climate Impact Assessment was put out for public comment in 2015, but never finalized by DEP.
That Assessment said Pennsylvanians should prepare for dangerously high summer temperatures and more severe storms, increased threat of certain diseases carried by insects, and drastic changes to agriculture and water quality.
The report noted that by 2050, Philadelphia’s climate will be similar to current-day Richmond, VA, and Pittsburgh will be similar to current-day Washington, DC or Baltimore, MD.
Greenhouse Gas Inventory
An updated 2018 Greenhouse Gas Inventory is now available which shows overall statewide greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors have dropped from 324.54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2000 to 287 million metric tons in 2015-- a 13 percent reduction.
Almost all the reductions are due to increased use of natural gas.  Committee members noted other sectors are going to have to step up to make reductions if the state is to meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
One point of discussion during the Committee meeting was the fact that Pennsylvania’s inventory is based on certain factors setting average greenhouse gas emissions by sources, not on the actual data collected as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory.
DEP said they intend to move to use the actual emissions data in the future.
Click Here for a copy of the Inventory discussed.
The next meeting of the Committee is scheduled for June 25 to be held in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson Building in Harrisburg starting at 10:00 a.m.  
For more information and available handouts, visit the DEP Climate Change Advisory Committee webpage.  Questions should be directed to Lindsay Byron, 717-772-8951, lbyron@pa.gov.

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