What is 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 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. Pennsylvania’s climate has also become wetter, with a 10 percent increase in the amount of precipitation, on average. Pennsylvanians can expect to see an additional 8 percent increase in precipitation by 2050. Human activities related to greenhouse gas emissions have been linked to disruption in the global climate.
Governor Wolf has demonstrated his commitment to protecting Pennsylvania’s citizens, economy, and environment from the impacts of climate change through Executive Order 2019-1; which set GHG reduction targets for the Commonwealth, identified specific energy efficiency and clean energy goals for Commonwealth agencies, and established the GreenGov Council. Governor Wolf also announced in April 2019 that Pennsylvania would join the U.S. Climate Alliance, which commits the Commonwealth to:
- Implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025
- Track and report progress to the global community in appropriate settings, including when the world convenes to take stock of the Paris Agreement
- Accelerate new and existing policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy deployment at the state and federal level
Governor Wolf has also directed DEP to develop a rulemaking package to abate, control, or limit CO2 emissions from fossil-fueled electric power generators via Executive Order 2019-7.
Pennsylvania Climate Change Act (Act 70 of 2008) requires DEP to: