Stories in Pennsylvania

Climate Solutions

Science leads the way to a healthier planet for all living things.

The sun rises over a forested mountain range.
Cumberland Forest The sun rises over the Cumberland Mountain Project. © Cameron Davidson

Tackling climate change is vitally important. Each successive month brings new heat records, extreme weather and other indicators that our climate is changing at a pace that threatens the quality of our lands, air and waters, the well-being and prosperity of our communities, and general stability around the world.  

The Nature Conservancy is committed to advancing solutions that match the scale and urgency of this crisis. Led by science, we are committed to tackling climate change, both to keep global warming below 2°C and to help vulnerable people and places deal with its negative impacts.

We are working to achieve this by:

  • Protecting and restoring healthy and resilient natural landscapes.
  • Mobilizing action to secure a clean energy future.
  • Supporting laws and initiatives that promote a healthy planet.
  • Accelerating natural climate solutions that address environmental threats.
Mountain view of the Ataya tract and Cumberland Mountains from Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Tennessee, United States.
Cumberland Forest The Nature Conservancy's Cumberland Forest project protects 253,000 acres of Appalachian forest and is one of TNC's largest-ever conservation efforts in the eastern United States. © Byron Jorjorian

Building Resilience

As rising temperatures and other climate impacts threaten to destabilize natural areas across the United States and around the world, TNC scientists are identifying ecologically diverse and connected landscapes capable of supporting native wildlife while providing drinking water, clean air, fertile soil and other important natural services to people. 

TNC has identified two Pennsylvania landscapes capable of standing up to a changing climate, if they are protected to strengthen resilience:

In these places, TNC is working with partners to implement innovative, science-based tools and conservation approaches that preserve lands and waters today to benefit nature and people in the future. One approach includes conserving forests through our Working Woodlands program, which engages private landowners in permanently protecting and managing healthy and productive forests to support both nature and local livelihoods.

As part of Working Woodlands, TNC quantifies carbon stored in enrolled forests to qualify them for an emerging carbon market where companies and other institutions purchase carbon credits from willing sellers to offset their own emissions.

Solar panels face a cloudy blue sky.
Solar Panels A field of solar panels produce energy for a nearby community. © American Public Power Association

Clean Energy

The Conservancy supports Pennsylvania's efforts to accelerate the transition to cleaner energy. Specifically, TNC is communicating and promoting the benefits of renewable energy alternatives and energy efficiency practices to policy makers, businesses and private citizens living and working in Pennsylvania. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Pennsylvania’s energy efficiency industry is responsible for nearly 62,000 jobs, a number that will only grow as the state transitions to cleaner and more efficient energy solutions. It is time to catch up to neighboring states that are surpassing Pennsylvania in pursuit of clean energy goals, jobs and greener economy.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency are good for Pennsylvania. Both generate jobs and promote economic growth while benefiting nature and the health and well-being of all Pennsylvanians.

TNC's Climate and Energy Policy Manager in Pennsylvania
A white car is plugged into a source of electricity.
Electric Car An electric car parks at a charging station. © Michael Simons

Policy

Since Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the nation in carbon dioxide emissions, TNC is weighing in on forward-thinking policies that seek to reduce the Commonwealth’s carbon footprint while creating new opportunities for economic growth. TNC supports several climate-friendly legislative proposals that have been introduced in Pennsylvania's state legislature:

  • Community Solar/House Bill 531 and Senate Bill 705 are bi-partisan proposals that would allow Pennsylvania businesses and residents to benefit from community solar projects. This market-growing policy permits people to share in the direct benefit from a solar installation, even if the panels are not on their property. Support Community Solar today!
  • Electric Vehicles/Senate Bill 596 is bi-partisan legislation that would accelerate the deployment of charging infrastructure to support the growing number of electric vehicles owners in Pennsylvania. 
  • Energy Efficiency/Senate Bill 232 and House Bill 193 are bi-partisan proposals that would increase energy efficiency investment across Pennsylvania by removing the caps on efficiency spending for Act 129 utility programs. This action would allow for a greater menu of energy-efficiency retrofits and drive deeper savings for customers. 
  • 30% Renewable Energy by 2030/Senate Bill 600 is a bipartisan proposal to increase Pennsylvania’s clean energy goals from the current level (8% by 2021) to 30% by 2030. Boosting this standard will encourage smart, market-based solutions to deploy distributed generation sources (like solar energy) and advance opportunities for modernizing the power grid by exploring the potential of energy storage technologies.
  • Reducing Methane Emissions/The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will soon propose new rules to cut emissions from existing oil and gas facilities. These new requirements are expected to result in lower emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Two hands shake in agreement.
Handshake Collaboration across borders and sectors is essential to tackling climate change. © Michael D-L Jordan/dlp

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiatives

In the Fall of 2019, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that the Commonwealth would join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)—a practical, market-based program that has helped nine other states in the Northeast reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power production. We believe this is a positive step for Pennsylvania and are encouraged by the Governor’s action.

RGGI has proven to be an important tool for participating states, cutting harmful emissions while stimulating investments in clean energy and energy efficiency for homeowners, businesses and local governments, as well as providing benefits to forest conservation.

Climate change is a fundamental threat to our conservation mission in Pennsylvania. The experience of RGGI suggests it has the potential to deliver significant reductions in CO2, while spurring the Commonwealth’s transition to a vibrant clean energy economy. 

Tree seedlings grow in plastic containers.
Tree Seedlings Seedlings grow in plastic containers at a nursery. © Scott Warren

Natural Climate Solutions

With Natural Climate Solutions we can help fight climate change by planting trees, promoting soil health, and protecting our wetlands and coastal ecosystems. These strategies can play a significant role in reducing atmospheric carbon, with the potential benefit equivalent to one fifth of our nation’s current net emissions – that’s the same as eliminating emissions from all cars and light duty trucks in America.  Significantly increasing our investments in Natural Climate Solutions, in addition to increased energy efficiency and a rapid transition to zero-carbon energy sources, is our best hope for dealing with the climate crisis.