The Wolf administration released on Wednesday a climate plan for 2021 who notes that the state’s average temperature has risen nearly 2 degrees since 1900 – most in the past 20 years – and is likely to feature more heat, flooding and extreme weather events unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.
At a press conference, Patrick McDonnell, State Department Commissioner for Environmental Protection, cited the remnants of Hurricane Ida as an example that the heat “increases the intensity of weather events due to flooding and this month’s historic tornadoes in southeastern counties … We need to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts and adapt to the level of impact we are already experiencing. ”
He said average temperatures could rise 5.9 degrees by mid-century from an average temperature between 1970 and 2000.
The climate plan contains 18 recommendations to help meet Wolf’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2025 and 80% by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.
Yassmin Gramian, secretary of state for transport, said 400 roads, including 16 major highways or highways, had been closed because of Ida. Philadelphia’s Vine Street freeway, she said, was filled with 30 million gallons of water “as if a river was flowing through the city.” More than 800 bridges require post-flood inspections.
The report says that infrastructure such as roads, bridges and stormwater systems are all likely to be affected by flooding related to sea level rise, tropical cyclones or other severe floods. precipitation. Philadelphia, the report notes, is crossed by major waterways that could experience more flooding, such as the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers, and Cobbs, Darby and Wissahickon creeks. Ida in 2021 and Isaias in 2020 illustrate the potential.
Allison Acevedo, DEP’s director of environmental justice, said low-income neighborhoods pose particular challenges because they have older housing and limited access to air conditioning, even though temperatures rise more often in the 1990s.
The plan notes the impact of the increased heat on cities like Philadelphia, where some neighborhoods can be up to 20 degrees warmer than others due to the lack of trees and lots of asphalt and concrete.
The results of the warming will cause an expected average increase in rainfall of 8% and cause more flooding inland, including in the coastal area of the Delaware Estuary around Philadelphia, according to the plan.
Among the recommendations for the next five years are updated building codes that focus on energy efficiency and overall improvements in the efficiency of commercial, residential and industrial buildings. There is also more solar energy and incentives for farms to increase their efficiency.
Goals over the next 10 years include the electrification of buildings, more fuel efficient vehicles, less use of private vehicles and more light electric vehicles. Establishing a standard for low carbon fuels and increased capture of methane from non-fossil sources, including animal manure, food waste and landfill gas for use on commercial properties and industrial, were also on the list.
The plan also aims to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations, provide training in best agricultural practices, and use forest management to increase carbon uptake.
Beyond 10 years, the plan recommends reaching an agreement with other states to sell only zero-emission vehicles by 2050, and establish a zero-carbon network.
Wolf already intends to join 11 northeastern states, including New Jersey and Delaware, in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants through a ‘cap and investment’ policy tool that aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants through a market-based approach. The administration submitted its plan to the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission for review.
Patrick Henderson, a member of the state’s climate change advisory committee, challenged the new climate report. He works for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a natural gas trading group.
In a statement, he called climate change the “McCarthyism of our time” and disagreed with some of the plan’s findings and recommendations, saying he also fails to recognize a correlation between lower emissions. of carbon dioxide in Pennsylvania and the increase in natural gas. for the production of electricity.
The report says emissions are expected to decline or stabilize by 2050 even if nothing is done, and officials say this is due to the shift from coal-fired power stations to natural gas.
Henderson wrote that the “fatal flaw” of the plan is that none of the proposals would lead to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in other states and, therefore, cannot really result in a net reduction in emissions. .
McDonnell, the DEP commissioner, countered that Pennsylvania is one of the top five emitters of greenhouse gases in the United States, so his actions will lead to net reductions.