Executive Director, PennEnvironment
Executive Director, PennEnvironment
12 Ways Governors Can Lead on Climate Now
[Philadelphia, PA] — As Governor Wolf prepares for his second-term inauguration later this month, a new study by the statewide environmental group PennEnvironment shows how he has the power and opportunity to lead Pennsylvania in adopting solutions to the climate crisis. Today, PennEnvironment released a new report, Climate Solutions from Day One: 12 Ways Governors Can Lead on Climate Now, detailing actions that Gov. Wolf—and the twenty new governors seated across the nation—can take immediately to significantly reduce planet-warming carbon pollution and ensure a more stable climate for their states and the nation.
“Given that Pennsylvania is the nation’s third largest global warming emitting state, Gov. Wolf sits in a pivotal position to finally make Pennsylvania part of the solution, instead of just part of the problem, in the fight against climate change,” said David Masur, Executive Director for PennEnvironment. “PennEnvironment is excited to see that with the stroke of a pen, Gov. Wolf has already taken steps in his second term, establishing statewide goals to reduce carbon pollution and to increase clean, renewable energy use by the Commonwealth. These policies have proven effective and can bring immediate benefits to our health and environment.”
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive order this week to reduce 26 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. He also directed Pennsylvania state agencies to reduce energy consumption, shift to electric vehicles, and increase investment in renewable energy.
“We commend Gov. Wolf for helping Pennsylvania breathe easier,” said Masur. “Other states should follow Gov. Wolf’s examples to increase clean energy and reduce climate pollution.”
While the federal government is headed in the wrong direction, pulling out of the international Paris Agreement and rolling back the federal Clean Power Plan and Clean Car Standards, Gov. Wolf has a chance to demonstrate to Pennsylvanians, other states, and the international community that the United States is still serious about solving the climate crisis. Governors have many opportunities to lead on climate, by making state government a positive example for climate action; setting goals around renewable energy deployment, electric vehicle adoption, and waste reduction; and creating or joining bipartisan, regional partnerships across state lines.
“In the absence of leadership from the federal government, states and cities are stepping up and doing their part to reduce emissions,” said Governor Wolf. “I am proud to declare the commonwealth’s intention to address climate change, the most critical environmental threat facing the world.”
Over the past year, top climate scientists have issued reports with dire warnings about our future. Every ton of greenhouse gas emissions avoided will help avert the worst impacts of global warming, and we have no time to delay. The latest update to the National Climate Assessment makes the stakes for regions across the country clear. Without urgent action to cut carbon pollution, we can expect droughts, storms, wildfires, flooding, and many more negative impacts of global warming to get much worse. We need rapid action by our elected leaders — and the solutions are abundant.
Other policies laid out in the report that can be taken in Pennsylvania include:
Shifting transportation spending and policies to support low-carbon modes;
Collaborating in regional climate initiatives;
Limiting new fossil-fuel infrastructure; and
Setting a waste reduction goal for the Commonwealth and directing Pennsylvanians agencies to reduce waste from state operations.
“In dozens of states, governors of every political stripe have taken strong action to put their states on the path to a lower-emission future,” said Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, report co-author. “When you’re facing a dire threat, you need to use every tool in the toolbox. It’s just common sense to cut energy waste in state buildings and boost renewable energy, and governors can make a difference right away.”
“The time for action on climate is now. Americans understand that climate change is an existential issue, with growing threats to the health and well-being of their friends, family and neighbors,” added Masur. “We look forward to further leadership from Gov. Wolf to ensure that Pennsylvanians can pursue their lives, liberty and happiness with a stable climate.”
PennEnvironment works to protect clean water, clean air, and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information about this or our other issues, please visit our website at www.PennEnviroment.org.