Legislature needs broad focus to address global warming

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Harrisburg, Pa. – Biofuel development and energy costs are certainly vital issues for Pennsylvania, but the state needs a much broader focus to do its part and seize the economic opportunities in addressing global warming, the head of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council told state legislators today.

Brian J. Hill, president and CEO of PEC, told the Joint Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee during their Environmental Issues Forum that one percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from Pennsylvania, which would rank us 25th among all the nations of the world.

“ It is clear from recent discussions in Congress and at the recent international climate change forum in Amsterdam that federal action is coming, that there is no longer any debate even in the highest political circles about whether global warming is a real and present danger to the world’s future,” Hill told the Committee.  “Pennsylvania needs to get ahead of the curve both in addressing climate change and in seizing the economic opportunities that will come from being a global leader on this issue.”

Rep. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) serves as chair of the Committee and Sen. Ray Musto (D-Luzerne) as vice-chair. Hill praised the Committee and their colleagues for recognizing biofuel development and energy conservation as key issues that they have place atop the agenda in Harrisburg.

“We certainly need to move aggressively to make Pennsylvania a leader in biofuel development, and there’s no cheaper way to meet growing demand for energy than to conserve the energy we’re already using every day,” he said.  “You’re right on in making both efforts a priority, but the opportunities for Pennsylvania go far, far beyond that.”

The Climate Change Roadmap for Pennsylvania was authored by PEC based on the input from a broad group of stakeholders from industry and agriculture to environmental advocates.  That consensus-driven report contains 38 specific recommendations for what Pennsylvania needs to do to reduce its carbon emissions enough to have real impact.

Nearly 40 recommendations for reducing climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions were included in the Climate Change Roadmap, which was developed by PEC with the help of business, farm, energy generation and environmental stakeholders.

Specifically, the Roadmap:

  • Sets a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2025, from 2000 levels;
  • Recommends capping greenhouse gas emissions and joining a nationwide system that allows the trading of credits to promote least-cost solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Updates the state’s 2003 inventory of greenhouse gas emissions so we have a good foundation to work from;
  • Establishes a model, based on the inventory, that will help us look at the impact of alternatives for reducing greenhouse gases and their impact on achieving our goal;
  • Makes 38 specific recommendations on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in several sectors: energy supply, transportation, residential, commercial and industrial buildings, agriculture, forestry, land use, on carbon sequestration and more.

“We can’t adequately address climate change in Pennsylvania unless we have a broad agenda that looks at all of these sectors – ranging from energy supply and efficiency to reforestation and carbon sequestration.  And in each of these sectors, there are numerous economic opportunities if Pennsylvania can get ahead of the other states in developing solutions,” Hill said.