Deep Decarbonization

In late 2015, PEC began work to examine the efficacy of deep decarbonization as an option for Pennsylvania’s electricity future. This work included hosting a two-day conference in March 2017 to bring together prominent thought-leaders in clean energy and climate protection for an open and honest discussion around the challenges of deep decarbonization as a potential strategy for Pennsylvania.


Deep Decarbonization: A Strategy for Pennsylvania?

 

Climate change impacts every facet of environmental protection and exacerbates challenges we already face, ranging from air quality to stormwater management to invasive species. Pennsylvania’s contribution to global climate change is significant, as should be its role in limiting that change and its impacts.

Deep decarbonization refers to achieving reductions of 80% or greater by mid-century, in line with the recommendations of several national and international organizations. While there are many ways to reduce carbon emissions, the challenge is determining which strategies, or combination of actions, will be effective in obtaining sufficient emission reductions.

Power plant photo

Dating back to 2015, PEC has placed a renewed focus on the idea of deep decarbonization, a pathway to the end goal of eliminating carbon emissions altogether.

Decisions made in the next decade to achieve interim carbon reductions may either facilitate virtual elimination of carbon, or push us into “dead ends” that make that outcome impossible or unaffordable.

Complicating this is the fact that infrastructure investments being made today can lock in energy choices for decades to come, without achieving significant GHG reductions.

Emerging thinking is focusing on the idea of deep decarbonization – a pathway to the end goal of eliminating carbon emissions altogether.

 

 

Emerging thinking is focusing on the idea of deep decarbonization – a pathway to the end goal of eliminating carbon emissions altogether.

 

In late 2015, PEC began work to examine the efficacy of deep decarbonization as an option for Pennsylvania’s electricity future. This work included hosting a two-day conference in March 2017 to bring together prominent thought-leaders in clean energy and climate protection for an open and honest discussion around the challenges of deep decarbonization as a potential strategy for Pennsylvania.

While efforts will need to be made to decarbonize all sectors of the economy, including transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture, this event focused primarily on deep decarbonization of the electricity sector, which accounts for 40 percent of Pennsylvania’s CO2 emissions.

A white paper was produced summarizing the findings of the conference, which recommended several areas for additional investigation. Of these, the first to be explored further will be carbon pricing.

More information on PEC’s deep decarbonization work can be seen at www.pec-climate.org.

Why Discuss a Global Issue at a State Level

 

Pennsylvania is the third-largest emitter of CO2 in the country. With approximately 200 major electricity generation facilities, the Commonwealth ranks second in the nation in electricity generation, fourth in coal production, and second in both nuclear and natural gas production. As the No. 1 state in the nation for electricity exports, electricity generation in Pennsylvania has impacts on neighboring states and beyond.

Market conditions alone may get us close to Pennsylvania’s target under the Clean Power Plan of a 33 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. However, a reduction of 80 percent by 2050, and 100 percent soon thereafter, is more in line with international and national estimates of the reduction required to prevent disastrous impacts.

PEC has a long history of convening diverse parties around complex issues for honest dialogue. We have begun exploring “deep decarbonization” and how this approach might help guide Pennsylvania (and beyond) to achieve significant carbon emissions reductions, while still ensuring affordable and dependable energy supplies and supporting a healthy economy.

Share This Page