Deep Decarbonization

As the nation’s leading exporter of electricity and third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, Pennsylvania has a responsibility to lead on climate.

PEC has revisited its 2019 Energy and Climate Pathways Report to provide an updated decarbonization roadmap – predicated on an “all in” approach – for policy action during the 2021-2022 state legislative session.  This roadmap includes:
  • Continuing the process to link with other states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
  • Reforming the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards into a Clean Energy Standard
  • Creating or enhancing tax credits, grants, loans, or other financial incentives for energy efficiency and energy use reduction, as well as strengthening and expanding existing Act 129 energy efficiency programs and weatherization programs
  • Adopting measures to promote community solar and grid modernization
  • Adopting policies and incentives to support installation of distributed energy resources, including renewables and energy storage
  • Advancing measures to facilitate clean energy development, including with regard to contracting and siting
  • Considering new or enhanced financial incentives and otherwise leveraging state resources to help bring other zero-carbon technologies to commercial readiness in Pennsylvania
In addition, measures are needed to decarbonize Pennsylvania’s transportation sector.  Decarbonization roadmap actions for transportation include:
  • Continuing to collaborate with neighboring states to ensure that the Transportation and Climate Initiative results in a robust policy proposal that is then implemented by the Commonwealth
  • Promoting electric vehicles, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and other low-carbon fuels

Since the release of PEC’s decarbonization policy agenda in early 2019, Governor Tom Wolf has issued an executive order to begin Pennsylvania’s initiation into RGGI. That rulemaking process is now proceeding toward hopeful completion by the end of 2021. We urge the governor and General Assembly to continue working toward a zero-carbon energy future that serves all Pennsylvanians.

Below, we have compiled a variety of policy documents, research, and multimedia content related to deep decarbonization that have been featured on the PEC website in the years since we began our focus on climate more than a decade ago.

Report: Climate and Energy Policy Recommendations for the Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Candidates

October 2022

PEC is revisiting its climate and energy recommendations once again to provide an updated decarbonization roadmap for the 2022 Gubernatorial candidates.

Report: Climate and Energy Policy Recommendations

January 2021

PEC has updated its 2019 Pathways report to provide a more complete decarbonization roadmap – predicated on an “all in” approach – for policy action during the 2021-2022 state legislative session.


January 2019

Pittsburgh — Calling on Governor Wolf and the General Assembly to act without further delay, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) today identified immediate steps Pennsylvania can take to reduce emissions of climate-changing gases.

“After years of talk, debate, research, and more talk about climate change, PEC respectfully requests that Governor Wolf and the General Assembly move immediately to join nine other Northeastern states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI),” said Davitt Woodwell, President of PEC. “We also ask that the governor and legislature adopt a Clean Energy Standard out of the current Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard.”

Taking these actions in the right ways will promote a broad, technology-agnostic energy policy that encourages low- and zero-carbon-emission energy sources including renewables, nuclear, and fossil fuels with carbon capture technologies. Following these steps, Pennsylvania can substantially reduce emissions while working to protect consumers and create opportunities for workers…


For more than a decade PEC has been studying how Pennsylvania can confront climate change. In 2007, our Climate Change Roadmap helped set the stage for passage of the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act of 2008, which mandated the development of a climate action plan for the state. Since then, we have continued working with experts and stakeholders to develop substantive policy recommendations for reducing Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Putting the Pieces Together

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) protects and restores the natural and built environments through innovation, collaboration, education and advocacy. PEC believes in the value of partnerships with the private sector, government, communities and individuals to improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.

Achieving Deep Carbon Reductions

Paths for Pennsylvania's Electricity Future

To examine the efficacy of deep decarbonization as an option for Pennsylvania’s electricity future, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council convened a gathering of experts and stakeholders in March 2017.

In a comprehensive and coordinated effort, prominent thought leaders in clean energy and climate protection held an open and honest discussion around the challenges of deep decarbonization as a potential strategy for Pennsylvania.

The event kicked off a broader conversation about whether deep decarbonization makes sense for our state and, if so, what the components of this strategy will be, and what policies and programs are needed to get there.

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% of Pennsylvania’s CO2 emissions. We explored activities in the following four areas: renewable energy, carbon capture and storage for fossil fuels, energy efficiency, and nuclear power.

PEC’s deep decarbonization conference was held March 15-16, 2017 in Pittsburgh.


Neil Donahue, Carnegie Mellon University
Granger Morgan, Carnegie Mellon University

Jesse Jenkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Eric Gimon, Energy Innovation
Steve Brick, Clean Air Task Force

“Climate Change and National Security: People not Polar Bears”
David Titley, Penn State University

Mike Ford, Carnegie Mellon University
Amber Robson, Third Way
Matthew McKinzie, Natural Resources Defense Council

Inês Azevedo, Carnegie Mellon University
Matt Jungclaus, Rocky Mountain Institute
Sebastien Houde, University of Maryland

John Quigley, University of Pennsylvania
David Mohler, Department of Energy, retired
Jennie Stephens, Northeastern University

Armond Cohen, Clean Air Task Force
Mark Brownstein, Environmental Defense Fund
Jason Albritton, The Nature Conservancy

“The U.S. Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization”

Jae Edmonds, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Pennsylvania Legacies

PEC’s Pennsylvania Legacies podcast explores pathways to deep decarbonization in conversation with scientists, policy experts, business and government leaders, and other stakeholders.