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. Rolling green ridges dominate the foreground and roll away to the horizon. White mist rises from the valleys in the distance.
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 the climate 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.
Fall colors of red and orange begin to show on a green forested mountain ridge.
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 Climate 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.

Large puffy white clouds hang low over a field of solar panels.
Solar Panels A field of solar panels produce energy for a nearby community. © American Public Power Association

Transitioning to Clean Energy

TNC 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 parked in front of an electric charging station. A heavy black cord is plugged into the car.
Electric Car An electric car parks at a charging station. © Michael Simons

Influencing Change Through Policy

Pennsylvania is a major contributor to the pollution that causes climate change: The state is ranked fifth in the country for carbon dioxide emissions. The Keystone State is also the largest net exporter of electricity in the country, supplying power to many states within the regional grid. Actions to reduce Pennsylvania emissions and to encourage our elected leaders to prioritize climate action are essential to overall success in the United States.

In 2021, Pennsylvania continued its path to joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). We appreciate the efforts of our Trustees who engaged with their state senators and state representatives to voice support for this important climate action. We also applaud the 600-plus members of the TNC community in Pennsylvania who contacted their elected officials through our action center page outreach and emails.

The Nature Conservancy advances policy solutions that work for people and nature in the U.S. and in countries around the world. Our policy recommendations are drawn from the hands-on experience of decades of working with people from all walks of life, with businesses and industries, and with governments from the local, national and global levels.

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.

Talking About Climate Change

For many people, talking about climate change can seem scary or divisive. In this video, a panel of TNC staff from Pennsylvania and Delaware help get the conversation started. During this virtual event, they walk through TNC's easy to use 5-step guide, provide local examples and offer anecdotes to show that we can talk about climate. They're joined by special guest "Doppler Dan" Tomaso, Harrisburg ABC27 News meteorologist.

Let's Talk About Climate (1:00:08) Your voice has the power to get real dialogue started.