HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 15, 2018) – PennFuture supports the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources newly released Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Plan
, which provides a comprehensive framework addressing the risks associated with climate impacts to Pennsylvania, including higher temperatures, extreme weather events, range shifts for wildlife and plant species, and an increase in invasive species.
“We applaud DCNR for developing a wide-ranging plan that acknowledges the reality of climate change and its impacts across the Commonwealth,” said Jacquelyn Bonomo, President and CEO of PennFuture. “The sweep and ambition behind the plan reflects the enormous challenges that our state has before us in meeting and addressing the threat of climate change, which reaches all facets of life from transportation, to public health, wildlife and beyond. PennFuture looks forward to partnering with DCNR as it works to implement the steps of the plan.”
Over the next year, DCNR will begin to implement recommendations to increase staff knowledge and expertise on climate change challenges and solutions through a newly-formed communication and education team. In addition, to test adaptive management practices on the ground, DCNR is launching a climate change adaptation pilot project on public lands in southcentral PA, including the 85,000-acre Michaux State Forest, and Kings Gap, Pine Grove Furnace and Caledonia state parks.
While this newly released climate plan is a marked step forward in the state’s ability to address climate change and its role in alleviating it, DCNR already has a substantial amount of tangible work underway to reduce Pennsylvania’s carbon footprint and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. In its existing Sustainability Initiative, 17 high performance buildings are at least 35 percent more energy efficient than local code-minimum buildings, and at least 40 percent more energy efficient than Energy Star national average. By the end of FY 2019, DCNR will have 18 solar arrays, saving $110,000 per year on energy costs and reducing CO2 by 680 tons per year.
“Gov. Tom Wolf is empowering the greening of state agencies to move towards greater sustainability across the Commonwealth. DCNR’s leadership on climate impacts is notable as these issues will affect everything in the state’s jurisdiction, and we look forward to commensurate action plans from its fellow state agencies on climate issues that will look to this plan as a blueprint moving forward,” Bonomo said.
According to the plan, Pennsylvania has seen measurable changes in temperature, precipitation, and storm intensity. Since the early 20th century, the commonwealth has seen a temperature increase of more than 1.8° F. Winter temperatures have risen even faster, increasing 1.3 °F per decade from 1970 to 2000 in the northeast U.S. The frequency of very hot days has also increased significantly. Pennsylvania has seen measurable changes in temperature, precipitation, and storm intensity. Since the early 20th century, the commonwealth has seen a temperature increase of more than 1.8° F. Winter temperatures have risen even faster, increasing 1.3 °F per decade from 1970 to 2000 in the northeast U.S.
The frequency of very hot days has also increased significantly. Record high temperatures in the U.S. in 2017 outnumbered record lows by 9:1, and by the middle of the century the northeastern part of the country is expected to see 20-30 more days above 90° F.
Annual precipitation has increased about 10 percent over the past 100 years, and heavy precipitation events also have increased significantly. According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, the heaviest downpours, which are the number of days where the total precipitation exceeded the top 1 percent of all rain and snow days, have increased by 71 percent in the Northeast.
PennFuture is leading the transition to a clean energy economy in Pennsylvania, fighting big polluters with legal muscle, enforcing environmental laws, and supporting legislative policy that protects public health. PennFuture is engaging and educating citizens about the realities of climate change, and giving them the tools needed to influence lawmakers on the issues. Visit www.pennfuture.org for more information.
Director of Communications