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.

After years of study, PEC has recommended five steps the commonwealth can take immediately to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Pennsylvania’s electricity sector:

  • Join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
  • Adopt a Clean Energy Standard (CES)
  • Embrace the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI)
  • Support energy efficiency, zero-carbon technologies, and carbon sequestration
  • Develop an integrated carbon pricing mechanism

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. 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: A Policy Pathway Forward

January 23, 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…

PEC's Record on Deep Decarbonization

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.

Coverage & Commentary

Putting the Pieces Together

Growing the market for clean energy will accelerate Pennsylvania’s progress toward the emission reduction targets announced by Governor Wolf in January, 2019.

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.

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

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.


Setting the Stage

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


Renewable Energy

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


Nuclear Power

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


Energy Efficiency

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


Carbon Capture and Storage

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


Environmental Leaders Response

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


Case Study

“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.

October 11, 2019

January 23, 2019

December 3, 2018

November 2, 2018

July 27, 2018

April 20, 2018

December 1, 2017

September 22, 2017

September 1, 2017

August 18, 2017

July 6, 2017

March 17, 2017

PEC Blog

Share This Page