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Climate Change

The global climate is changing due, in part, to the increase in emissions and concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) over the last century. Gases such as ozone (O3), methane (CH4), and carbon dioxide (CO2) trap radiant heat from the Earth in the atmosphere and cause a greenhouse effect. These gases have a radiative effect causing an imbalance of the heat energy in the atmosphere, causing either a warming or a cooling of the Earth's climate. Most GHGs take decades to break down and leave the atmosphere.

In Pennsylvania, our climate has undergone a long-term warming of more than 1° C (1.8° F) over the past 110 years. Human activities related to greenhouse gas emissions have been linked to disruption in the global climate.


As required by the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act of 2008, the DEP and the Climate Change Advisory Committee produced a Climate Change Action Plan and submitted it to the governor in 2009. This plan:

  • identifies GHG emission and sequestration trends and baselines in the Commonwealth;
  • evaluates cost-effective strategies for reducing or offsetting GHG emissions;
  • identifies costs, benefits and cobenefits of reduction strategies recommended;
  • identifies areas of agreement and disagreement among committee members; and
  • recommends to the General Assembly legislative changes necessary to implement the Action Plan.

In addition the DEP and CCAC are required to update the plan every three years.

Read the latest plan:
2015 Climate Change Action Plan Update (PDF)
Comment Response Document (PDF)


Section 3 of the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act (Act 70 of 2008) requires DEP to update and publish a report of the potential impact of climate change in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania every three years. This report provides:

  • scientific predictions regarding changes in temperature and precipitation in Pennsylvania;
  • potential impact of climate change on human health, the economy and other sectors; and
  • economic opportunities created by potential need for alternative sources of energy and climate related technologies.

Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment Update (PDF)
Press release on the Impacts Assessment.


On August 3, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final Carbon Pollution Emissions Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, also known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The Clean Power Plan sets carbon dioxide emission standards for power plants and establishes customized goals for states to reduce carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide accounts for approximately 84-percent of all U.S. GHG emissions. Under the federal Clean Air Act, each state is required to develop a state-specific compliance plan to meet individual state targets set by EPA or be subject to the Federal Plan.

Pennsylvania will draft a state plan to comply with the CPP that is tailor-made for our state's economy and citizens, protecting our indigenous resources and our position as a net energy exporter. In order to develop a specific Pennsylvania plan, input from the public is necessary.

Read the Clean Power Plan (PDF)

EPA's Clean Power Plan Toolbox


Clean Power Plan Presentation — DEP Secretary John Quigley (PDF)

Clean Power Plan Webinar (MP4) 5.81 MB

Clean Power Plan Webinar (WMV) 106 MB