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PERC Commonwealth Report


Report for PERC on the Need of Pennsylvania to Act on Climate Change while recognizing the leadership of certain PERC schools on human-induced warming.

Don Brown, Widener University (report author) recapping his PA climate change 
report at a press conference at the Capitol Media Center.
A report that was prepared in response to last year’s annual PERC meeting in October was issued April 24, 2013 explaining why Pennsylvania needs to take steps to reduce the threat of climate change. The report was prepared by Donald A. Brown, Scholar In Residence, Sustainability Ethics and Law, Widener University School of Law who presented the report at a seminar at the State Capitol. Included in the report is the recognition of leadership of certain PERC schools, religious institutions, and the potential role of local governments on climate change. In addition, representatives from PennFuture, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light and Sierra Club spoke in support of the report.

The report recognizes the leadership of all twenty-nine Pennsylvania schools that have signed the American Colleges and University Presidents Climate Commitment (, and Carnegie-Mellon University and Duquesne University for setting a greenhouse gas emissions target and adopting an action plan. In addition, the report particularly recognizes Allegheny College, Dickinson University, and the University of Pennsylvania for their exemplary leadership.

The report concludes that Pennsylvania needs to act to reduce the threat of climate change. The report explains how the latest science on climate change that is being articulated by the most prestigious scientific institutions including the National Academy of Sciences leads to the conclusion that there is an urgent need of governments at all scales to act to reduce the threat of dangerous climate change. The report also explains how climate change will likely affect Pennsylvania and hundreds of millions of poor, vulnerable people around the world.  Given this, the report explains why Pennsylvania also needs to plan to adapt to climate change impacts that are now very likely even if governments respond more aggressively than they have in the past. The report also compares Pennsylvania’s response to climate change to other US states and recognizes leadership on climate change by Pennsylvania colleges and universities, religious intuitions, and local governments.

The report furthermore discusses a Pennsylvania law adopted in 2008 that requires Pennsylvania to take certain actions on climate change including the development of an action plan to reduce greenhouse gases from Pennsylvania.  Although a report was produced in 2009 under the 2008 law by a bi-partisan committee that found that Pennsylvania could reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) by 30% below 2000 levels by 2020 while producing 65,000 new full-time jobs and adding more than $6 billion to the Commonwealth’s gross state product in 2020, the plan has been largely ignored by the current Commonwealth government.

Josh Hooper, PERC’s Executive Director, summarizing the recognition 
of Pennsylvania climate change leader schools in the Capitol Media Center

Given all of this the report calls for Pennsylvania to:
  1. Adopt a legally-binding GHG emissions reduction target consistent with Pennsylvania’s fair share of safe global emissions.
  2. Work with the Climate Change Advisory Committee  identified in the 2008 Pennsylvania Climate Act supplemented by vigorous public participation to identify strategies to reduce Pennsylvania GHG necessary to achieve the legally-binding GHG emissions reduction target.
  3. Adopt any laws or regulations necessary to implement the action plan and achieve the target.
  4. Greatly ramp up Pennsylvania’s commitment to non-fossil energy.
  5. Develop and periodically update a climate change adaptation plan.
  6. Encourage, support, and recognize actions and programs to reduce the threat of climate change by Pennsylvania sub-state level governments, businesses, organizations, and educational and religious institutions.

For the full report, please see the document HERE.

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