Pennsylvania Adopts Action Plan for Meeting Paris Climate Accord Goals

April 29, 2019 by Dan McCue

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf released the state’s Climate Action Plan Monday, a comprehensive strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Accord.

The new state climate plan developed by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and other state agency partners with recommendations for government leaders, businesses, and citizens aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate.

The plan describes over 100 actions, 15 of which the Department of Environmental Protection and partners analyzed quantitatively for potential greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

The analysis showed that just those 15 actions, such as increasing renewable energy, incentivizing energy efficient buildings, and increasing the use of electric vehicles, would reduce emissions 21 percent by 2025. Any combination of the 85 additional actions would likely achieve even more emissions reductions.

As he rolled out the plan, Governor Wolf, a Democrat, also announced Pennsylvania is joining the United States Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of states committed to the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“We’ve seen lately even more evidence that there is a need for leadership on climate change,” Wolf said.  

“With the federal government turning its back on science and the environment, I am proud to join with states that are leading the way towards new climate solutions, and taking concrete actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he continued. “States like Pennsylvania must take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect our communities, economies, infrastructures, and environments from the risks of a warming climate.”

Among those applauding the governor’s actions Monday was Andrew Williams, director of regulatory and legislative affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund, who said “the climate action plan … presents Pennsylvania with the opportunity to take meaningful climate action while protecting Pennsylvania communities and preserving a healthy economy.

“The biggest area of opportunity is aggressively limiting carbon emissions from the power sector,” Williams continued. “Power sector limits coupled with direct regulation of methane emissions are the 1-2 punch in the fight against climate change that, if implemented, can put Pennsylvania on the road to success.”

Wolf’s announcement comes just over four months after he signed an executive order committing the state to greenhouse gas reductions of 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels.

It also comes four weeks after House Democrats introduced a new bill, the Climate Action Now Act, aiming to hold the Trump administration to the United States’ original commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

Additionally, it prohibits any federal funds being used to take any action to advance the U.S. withdrawal from the Agreement.

Under the terms of the Paris Accord, each of the 185 countries who have become parties to it are obligated to take steps to mitigate the effects of climate change in a joint bid to keep the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Among other things the accord prescribes is reducing carbon emissions and expanding the use of renewable energy resources.

Under the Obama administration, the United States formally entered into the agreement in September 2016, but less than a year later, on June 1, 2017,  President Donald Trump announced the U.S. was walking away from the deal.

Governor Wolf said Monday his climate plan underscores the need for Pennsylvania to move forward in setting a binding, declining limit on carbon emissions from the power sector that facilitates energy markets appropriately valuing lowest-cost, least-polluting energy resources.

Pennsylvania is currently the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States.

“I applaud the efforts of the governor and his administration to address the impacts of climate change in the commonwealth head on,” said Representative Steve McCarter, D-Pa., “The Pennsylvania Climate Caucus stands ready to help in any way to advance policy and legislation to meet what is surely humanity’s greatest challenge here in Pennsylvania and across the globe.”

“When future generations of Pennsylvanians look back at this critical moment in history, I want them to know they were not abandoned,” Senator Steve Santarsiero, D-Pa., said. “Entering into the U.S. Climate Alliance and implementing the Climate Action Plan sends a clear message that Pennsylvania is serious about addressing climate change.”

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